Category Archives: Miscellaneous

A Quick Retelling of the Cuban Archaeologists’ Visit

From second left to right: Roger Arrazcaeta Delgado; Marcos Antonio Acosta Mauri; and Yoser Martínez Hernández of the Gabinete de Arqueología of Havana, Cuba at their rowing stations in the chalupa, “San Agustín”.

By Dr. Sam Turner

Between August 25th and September 14th the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum hosted an archaeological cultural exchange which consisted of a visit by three Cuban archaeologists, Roger Arrazcaeta Delgado, Yoser Martínez Hernández, and Marcos Antonio Acosta Mauri, from the Gabinete de Arqueología, or Archaeology Cabinet, based in Havana, Cuba. This cultural exchange was possible through collaborations with the St. Augustine Archaeological Association which sponsored their travel and the Friendship Association which provided financial and logistical support. The purpose of the archaeologists’ visit was to participate in both underwater archaeological fieldwork with the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and in terrestrial archaeological projects with the City of St. Augustine archaeologist as well as to exchange ideas and methodology from within the international field. Additionally, the guest archaeologists assisted with the analysis of the ceramic material found on the Anniversary Wreck, which is the current focus of LAMP’s field work.

This particular cultural exchange program works to establish and deepen contacts between archaeologists and historians in both St. Augustine and Havana, Cuba in hopes of restoring cultural and scholarly ties between these two cities following a thawing in international relations. This is considered especially important given that these two cities’ histories have been closely intertwined for much of the last 450 years.

The Cuban archaeologists were able to explore the Anniversary Wreck with Museum archaeologists as well as use a new airlift – an underwater excavation tool – which LAMP has been experimenting with this field season. During their visit, they also visited many historically-significant sites in order to get a comprehensive overview of the history of our city. After visiting Fort Matanzas and the Castillo de San Marcos they became particularly interested in the bronze Spanish artillery captured during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Spanish-American War (1898). Other visits included: the Alligator Farm; the Spanish Military Hospital; St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine; Tolomato Cemetery; and the Father Felix Varela Shrine.

Director of the Gabinete de Arqueología, Roger Arrazcaeta Delgado, was the featured speaker for the St. Augustine Archaeological Association’s monthly speaker series delivered at Flagler College on September 5th. His talk, entitled, The Frigate Navigator and its British Shipment: History and Archaeology, focused on a shipwreck east of the city of Havana which they have recently investigated and identified. The talk was well attended by approximately 75 people.

Our Cuban colleagues were especially pleased to meet and spend time with St. Augustine resident Dr. Kathy Deagan, one of the world’s foremost experts on Spanish colonial archaeology who took them on a guided tour of the first colony exhibit in Government house and discussed her work on numerous Spanish colonial archaeological sites in St. Augustine and abroad. They also had the pleasure and honor of helping crew St. Augustine’s tall ship, the San Agustín, an authentic and faithful replica of a Spanish watercraft known as a chalupa. This watercraft was built as a legacy project of the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine as a partnership between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, The St. Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation, and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. This replica vessel is used every year to reenact the landing of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on Founders Day. Our Cuban colleagues were able to take part in the full landing rehearsal and were to have participated in the landing day festivities set to take place on the September 9th but those plans changed when an unwelcome visitor named Irma came to town.

While here, our colleagues pitched in with the rest of the Lighthouse staff to prepare the entire Lighthouse site for the hurricane which was a two-day process that included striking all the tent tops in our Heritage Boatworks area and boarding up windows. They weathered the storm at Lighthouse Field House where field students and visiting scholars are housed during their stay in St. Augustine. Following the storm, they helped reopen the site for business. Towards the end of their visit, we conducted a study and examination of the ceramic assemblage that was excavated from the Anniversary Wreck and currently under archaeological investigation by LAMP. This included a visit to the city archaeology lab where they met with outgoing city archaeologist, Carl Halbirt, as well as his recently-arrived-replacement, Andrea White. Carl shared a great deal of information including some of his most interesting finds here in St. Augustine, especially the recent excavations of the Spanish cemetery associated with the church of Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios on Charlotte Street.

Unfortunately, as another result of the storm, no archaeological work with the City Archaeologist was possible during this visit. Hopefully next time! We were honored to have international colleagues come to share with us. Our thanks to them and to all who helped host!

Summer Camp 2017

Did you know there are camps at the Lighthouse? We offer camps three times per year which follow the St. Johns County Schools’ calendar during summer, winter, and spring breaks. Our camps also reach out to underserved and at-risk populations through scholarships and donations from our generous supporters. Scholarships and donations allow students to attend our camps who have high academic achievement and potential but do not have the economic means to attend. This year we also partnered with First Coast Blessings in a Backpack to ensure those students who need it would receive nutritional meals when they are not at camp. See below for more information.

Beginning May 30th, campers survived a shipwreck on Anastasia Island, immersed themselves in local folkways, tried their hand at archaeological conservation, became a tourist, and kept our light going. Whew! Each week has a different theme that brings STEAM-based learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics) and fun to campers. Guest Speakers, field trips, science experiments, crafts, and activities bring each theme to life. Of course, there is the opportunity to climb the tower and explore our exhibits, too.

Some questions we asked the campers to consider during their first week for the theme, Shipwreck Survival:
• What is the most important thing to do when stranded?
• Would you create shelter, make fire, find water or scavenge for supplies first?

Staying dry and lessening your exposure to the elements is priority number one. Heat stroke or hypothermia would cause problems that could prevent you from being able to tackle those other necessities for survival. Other IFS (Important For Survival) skills were learned and practiced by campers to ensure the highest number of survivors possible, which for us was 100% just as expected!

Can you name all the cultural influences that shaped St. Augustine before and after its founding in 1565? Our second week aimed to do just that by inviting community members and staff to share with campers their heritage and traditions from the past. Cuban foodways, Greek culture, and Seminole clothing design are just a few of the customs with which the campers engaged.

Some questions that arose as we learned:
• Is it hard to find the queen bee in a group of bees?
• Does using an atlatl really make a difference?
• Can I navigate from point A to point B?
The answers that we found to those questions:
• Very hard!
• Yes it really does make a difference!
• Not when it is raining unfortunately.

What do eggs and vinegar have to do with shipwreck conservation? The third week focused on the methods our Maritime Archaeological Conservationists use to process artifacts. Topics included: concretions, cleaning artifacts, preservation, casting, artifact cell absorption of salt water, non-Newtonian fluids, and the meaning of maritime archaeology. ***TRY AT HOME*** Putting an egg into vinegar for 24-36 hours removes the calcium from the shell and the outer membrane becomes “rubber-like”, while the yolk inside remains unscathed. Conservationists may use vinegar to remove the calcium in a concretion that is on a soft metal, like a coin. The concretion can be removed without scratching the metal underneath. Give the egg a try at home but be careful because the membrane can break easily. A highlight for campers was performing emergency conservation triage.
What is a spectroscope? Our campers not only learned what one is, but they made one, too. The last week of camp concentrated on the Science of Light as it relates to our Fresnel lens in the tower. Two of the topics were reflection/refraction and magnification. Our man-made lens does all three, but can you think of another natural resource that does this too? Water! A highlight for this week was seeing how a kerosene lantern worked. DID YOU KNOW? The Lighthouse went from oil to kerosene in 1885.

Are you curious about unanswered questions? Well, you know the answer to that! Come join us at the Lighthouse, visit our website www.staugustinelighthouse.org, or register for a camp to learn more. Additionally, please visit the below links to learn more about the wonderful mission of First Coast Blessings in a Backpack who helped us to make a difference this year in over half of our campers’ lives.

https://www.firstcoastblessingsinabackpack.com/home.html
https://www.facebook.com/FirstCoastBlessings/

Which St. Augustine Ghost Tour is the Best?

All this month (July 1st – July 22nd) you can hopefully let us know it’s the Dark of the Moon Tours as we ask our discerning public to vote for us during the annual St. Augustine Record “Best Of” contest!  Each year voters choose their favorites in all categories in town from hair salons to restaurants to entertainment options.

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Open to the public, Dark of the Moon Tours offer guests a chance to learn about the ghosts who haunt the Lighthouse grounds and after a guided tour, investigate on their own the grounds, the Lighthouse Tower and inside the Keepers’ House. As this has proved to be one of the most popular paranormal tours in St. Augustine, reservations are strongly encouraged to ensure your desired evening for adventure.  Plus, this is the tour for you if you’ve always wanted to climb the Tower at night.

For those who want an even more unique experience, we have started offering investigation-only tours! The investigation-only tours will be three full hours of exploring the darkened Lighthouse Tower and the Keepers’ House basement. The potential for a creepy encounter is heightened by the fact that these tours fall on important dates in the Lighthouse Tower’s history:  July’s tour is the anniversary of the tragic cart accident involving the Pittee girls; at midnight of October’s tour we will celebrate the first lighting of our current Lighthouse Tower (1874); and December’s tour will be in memory of Keeper Joseph Andreu who fell from the original tower while painting (1859).

If you haven’t already experienced the more mysterious side of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, now is definitely the time to do so.  We’re inviting you all here this summer to either try our signature paranormal Dark of the Moon Tours or if you’re already a fan, to try the NEW investigation-only tour.  Either way, we’re sure you’ll have a fun night out and then hopefully vote us, “Best Of” Ghost Tours in St. Augustine (http://www.staugustine.com/best-of-2017)!

Happy Haunting!

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Love at the St. Augustine Lighthouse

It’s not a secret that the Lighthouse is one of the most iconic landmarks in St. Augustine and has been for over 140 years!  But did you know that the striped Tower, Keepers’ House, and Live Oaks can also be a part of your special day?blog 1

Some of our visitors have found creative ways to incorporate the unique site into their engagements and ceremonies.  Recently, I received a phone call from a museum member who wanted to “pop the question” on the top of the Lighthouse Tower.  He came to me with a plan, and we were able to make it a reality!  While the two climbed the Lighthouse Tower, the sister carefully placed letters at the base that said “Marry Me Victoria”.

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After they made it to the top, Victoria looked down to see the proposal sprawled at the base.

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And Victoria said “YES”!

In addition to proposals, we also host ceremonies.  We have our ceremonies on the front lawn of the Keepers’ House, under the twisted Live Oaks.

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Depending on the time of year, the Keepers’ House and grounds may be decorated for the Christmas holiday season.

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The price starts at $600 and increases depending on the number of guests.  Admission is included for each guest after the ceremony.  If a Lighthouse wedding is in your future, please contact Loni Wellman, Volunteer & Events Manager at 904-829-0745 ext 213 or at LWellman@staugustinelighthouse.org.

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For more ceremony and engagement ideas from couples who had their photos and events here, check out these local bloggers:

http://www.christinakarst.com/blog/2016/4/15/st-augustine-lighthouse-wedding-emily-boomer

http://viktoriyachuprov.com/weddings2/2017/6/11/st-augustine-lighthouse-elopement-kara-geoff

http://jenna-alexander.com/2017/01/26/geoff-maggie/

http://www.lisasilvablog.com/jamie-and-steve-engagement-session/

Join Us in Celebrating Sam Andrews

Around this time each year the Museum store prepares for the heavy tourism season. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum Gift Shop staff work to ensure appropriate levels of inventory, to have the types of items people enjoy and to keep the store looking good despite the foot traffic which goes in and out each day. One person who does an exceptional job day in and day out is Sam Andrews. Sam is the Museum Shop Manager, making sure, among other things, that the almost 14,000 t-shirts sold annually are in the colors you want and the styles you like. Sam credits his incredible team for making his job look easy, but it is hard to deny how straight he keeps the ship steered when he is celebrating five years with the Lighthouse! Sam wants everyone to know that it truly makes his job easy when he has the beautiful Lighthouse at which to gaze each day and staff who maintain what he considers a “quality attraction” for all.

Lighthouse flip-flops.
Lighthouse flip-flops.

 

 

In honor of Sam’s anniversary month, come pick up your favorite t-shirt today, along with some Lighthouse flip-flops and homemade fudge as we make our way into summer. While here, give a wave to Sam and say, “congratulations!”

Author’s note:  Sam graciously declined to pose for the camera for this article.

 

Homemade fudge from our gift shop.
Homemade fudge from our gift shop.