Tag Archives: St. Augustine

December 4: Luminary Night welcomes the community to the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum during the holiday season

Luminary Night is an annual tradition hosted by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. From 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, December 4, the Museum grounds will open for an evening community celebration for all ages.

More than 2,000 luminaries are displayed throughout the grounds and on the streets surrounding this historic landmark, creating a magical holiday experience. Lights and holiday décor also adorn the 1876 Keepers’ House and other historic buildings on the property. In addition, 14 Christmas trees are decorated in different themes, with the Nautical tree in the upstairs gallery of the Keepers’ House featuring nautical-themed ornaments donated by people all over the country.

For a special treat, guests can climb the tower for sparkling views of Nights of Lights from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The event also features visits and photos with Santa, children’s activities and holiday crafts, yuletide refreshments and live performances by community groups. In addition, photo opportunities will be available with characters from Costumers With a Cause throughout the evening.

Holiday performances will be performed by the St. Augustine Youth Chorus, St. Johns County Center for the Arts Chorus and Guitar Ensemble, the Limelight Theatre Show Choir, the Heather Loveland Dance Academy, and the Glad Melody Gang.

St. Augustine Seafood Company will present a check to the Museum at 7 p.m. during the event, with funds raised from the sale of Lighthouse Lemonade.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support of St. Augustine Seafood Company,” said Museum Executive Director Kathy Fleming. “We appreciate this important partnership as we continue to preserve maritime history and keep the light shining.”

The winner of the Heritage Boatworks drawing for the handcrafted Penobscot 13 will take place at 8:30 p.m. during the event.

Luminary Night is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of non-perishable food items which will be donated to St. Francis Housing Crisis Center and Port in the Storm Homeless Youth Center.

Holiday-themed refreshments will be available for purchase throughout the evening. All monetary proceeds will continue the work of the nonprofit Museum’s mission.

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse, and twitter.com/firstlighthouse.

 

ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:

A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for 145 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (StAugustineLighthouse.org)

 

About the American Alliance of Museums:

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility. Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, and reinforces the education and public service roles of museums and promote good governance practices and ethical behavior. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org).

 

 

 

Veterans Receive Free Admission on Veterans Day

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will offer FREE admission for US Military Veterans on Veterans Day; Monday, November 11. Museum hours are 9 AM to 6 PM.

Immediate family members of Veterans will receive 10 percent off admission. Free admission is also available for active military and their immediate family on Veterans Day and all year long.

St. Johns County Residents pay once and can visit for a full calendar year, or can join us as a Museum Member for even deeper discounts around town, in the gift shop, and at other attractions in Florida.

 MUSEUM ACTIVITIES

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is a nonprofit, mission-centered museum that loves to tell stories about the sea and conducts underwater research through the Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program (LAMP).

Guests can step up 219 steps to the top of the 165-foot tower for a breathtaking view of historic downtown St. Augustine and the beaches. But there is much more to do after the climb. Visitors can also discover St. Augustine’s rich maritime heritage on site. Take a walk through the maritime hammock through nature trails. Explore exhibits in the restored 1876 Keepers’ House and discover shipwreck finds made in local waters by our scientists.

The Light Station was a defensive post in WWII, and half the site is restored to that era. Visit WWII US Coast Guard Coastal Lookout Building, where Coasties lived and stood watch atop the tower, marking each ship’s location and keeping a watchful eye out for German U-boats.

The Museum has received a small matching grant from the State of Florida Division of Historical Resources to create an exhibition that tells the story of the war through local eyes. We are accepting donations to help the exhibit and preservation of our WWII site. The WWII theme continues in the Jeep Maintenance Garage, which houses the Tin Pickle Café.

 

 EXHIBITS TO SEE AFTER THE CLIMB

  • Wrecked! The Story of a Revolutionary War Shipwreck – Artifacts and archaeological exhibits are on view in part of the Keepers’ House. These include Redcoat buttons, personal items and the second oldest British carronade discovered in the world, according to the Tower of London.
  • At Home with the Harns: In a Post-Civil War Household – tells the story of William and Kate Harn and their large family in the years after he retired as a Brevet Major in the Union Army. Harn was the lighthouse keeper for two decades.
  • Legends of the Light: Seaside Stories from the Past, is housed throughout the tower and in the Maritime Archaeology Center. Learn fun stories of ships, lighthouses and keepers. Play in the miniature lighthouse. See a View from the Top video in the Lastinger Family Gallery.
  • Art from the Collection of the US Coast Guard, in the WWII Coastal Lookout Building. See the service provided to America by our beloved coastal guardians told through veterans’ paintings.
  • Heritage Boatworks: Building on Florida’s Maritime Heritage Northeast Florida, outside in the Maritime Heritage Park. Museum volunteers build boats from archival plans.
  • Shrimping: Foundation of a Global Enterprise – Augustine families changed the foodways of the world through the local fishing and boat building industry. See their story in the Anastasia Gallery.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

 Nation’s Oldest Port Demos: Every 30 minutes on the hour from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM

  • Maritime Hammock Nature Trails & Scavenger Hunt
  • The Charles G Cox Archaeology Lab, PGA Viewing Area lets you interact with shipwreck conservators at work.
  • The Lastinger Family Shipyard Playground, and the Wiles Family Hands-on Children’s Activity Area.

Hours are 9 AM to 6 PM daily. Regular admission is $12.95 for adults; $10.95 for seniors and children under 12; free for children less than 44 inches tall; and discounts for St. Johns County residents.

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse, and twitter.com/firstlighthouse.

 

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum celebrates the 145th Anniversary of the Historic Tower

St. Johns County residents receive free admission on October 15 with code JSL

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum celebrates 145 years of maritime history in the current historic, lighthouse tower. The second lighthouse at St. Augustine was built from 1871 to 1874 and topped by the first-order Fresnel lens from Paris, France. The first lighting was by Keeper William Russell on October 15, 1874.

“The tower stands testament to a maritime heritage that is one of the foundations of our community. Our lovely light is a symbol of safety, security, and community service, the front porch light for our community, one that has seen the likes of Henry Flagler, the development of the Alcazar Hotel, the Spanish American War, the building of the Bridge of Lines, two world wars, and the development of a modern, shrimping fleet that literally changed the foodways of the United States. It is right that we should celebrate its anniversary,” said Kathy A. Fleming, the Museum’s Executive Director since 1994. 

The oldest brick structure in St. Augustine, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the St. Augustine Lighthouse beacon is a private, but active aid-to-navigation, with the original lens shining kept shining through the efforts of the Museum’s staff and corps of 270 volunteers. 

The tower and lens were saved by the Junior Service League of St. Augustine (JSL) between 1980 and 1998, when a separate community-based Board of Trustees took control of the Museum. The 1876 Keepers’ House burned in 1970 and was threatened with demolition. Initially, 16 women in the JSL stepped in to accept ownership from the County of St. Johns, turning back the bulldozers and restoring the house. They opened it as a maritime museum, with an idea of helping others.

“Sherry Butler Bowen was one of the women with that earliest vision,” said Fleming. “She was followed by countless others in our community who keep the torch alight.”

In 1991, Margaret McClure Van Ormer approached the United States Coast Guard about acquiring the historic lighthouse tower; the Coast Guard agreed, and at Margaret’s suggestion, they agreed to paint it first.

In 1993, the JSL celebrated the completion of the restoration project with the first Community Day, including the relighting of the original Fresnel lens and fireworks. The event garnered 5,000 visitors and drew national attention with CNN covering what was then the first restoration of a Fresnel lens in the world.

145th CELEBRATION EVENT

To mark the 145th anniversary, the Museum will celebrate with the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. St. Johns County Residents are free that day if they mention the passcode “JSL.” 

Then from 6 pm to 8 pm on October 15, the Museum will hold its Annual Meeting of the Members, which will feature a birthday cake. The speaker will be Executive Director and JSL Active Sustainer, Kathy Fleming, who will share some lighthouse stories.

There will be a recognition for Architect Ken Smith (Kenneth Smith Architects of Jacksonville). Smith oversaw the restoration of the tower working with then Museum director, the late Cullen Chambers. Smith has continued to oversee preservation efforts at the historic light tower ever since.

The Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Inc. and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum are being honored by receipt of the Herschel Shepherd Award, by the St. Augustine Society on October 2 in an event organized by the Historical Society. 

HISTORY

1871

When it became evident that the first St. Augustine Lighthouse (called the Old Spanish Watchtower) was doomed to fall into the ocean, the U.S. Congress appropriated $100,000 funding for a new tower. The U.S. Lighthouse Service began construction on a new 165-foot lighthouse in 1871 and it was completed in 1874. Local African Americans and Lighthouse Service Professionals worked together on site. 

More than 1 million bricks came by boat from Alabama, along with granite from Georgia, and steel from Pennsylvania. Supporting the lighthouse is a poured concrete foundation that begins 8 feet below grade, and rests on a naturally-formed coquina shell-rock underpinning. A concrete and masonry base of 10 feet 9 inches rests atop the foundation. Wall thickness is 5 ft 8 inches at the base of the 165-foot-tall tower (a masonry, truncated cone).

1874

On October 15, 1874, lighthouse keeper William Russell lit the oil lamp inside the new, first-order Fresnel lens for the first time. He most likely walked to the tower from his residence at the old St. Augustine Light Station, upon which the sea was rapidly encroaching. The lens is 9-feet tall, and Russell would have had to climb inside it to light the lamps.

The jewel-like lens was handcrafted just for St. Augustine in Paris, France by the company of Sauter & Lemonier. It represented the height of Victorian engineering and technology and cast its beam much farther out to sea than its predecessor. The new light demonstrated three fixed-flashes, from three bulls-eye panels that could be seen from up to 24 nautical miles depending on atmospheric conditions. Fueled by lard oil, and then kerosene the first light would have given a glowing, yellow-hued light. 

On February 28, 1889, The Saint Augustine Weekly News described the lens in the following manner, “The lamp was a brass cylinder of 10 gallons capacity. Inside it has a heavyweight, which governs the flow of oil to the burner. The burner has five wicks in concentric circles…The globe is a huge case of glass, which revolves around the lamp every 9 minutes. It makes a flash every three minutes when a big bulls-eye lines up between the lamp and the human eye. The cage weighs two tons.”

In 1955 the light was automated by an astronomical clock, automatic lamp (light bulb) changer and backup generator. The night mark changed at this time as well. Today an electric motor controls rotation speed, and one fixed white flash, every 30 seconds, shines across our home town. 

The Museum provides a host of services including donations of more than $300,000 annually in goods and services to other nonprofits. The team preserves six historic buildings and holds over 19,000 artifacts in trust for future generations. Educational Programs, Maritime Archaeological Research, Heritage Boat Building, and an active volunteer program of 300+ volunteers help build wellness, job experiences for young people, and civic engagement. 

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse and twitter.com/firstlighthouse


ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:

A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for 145 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (StAugustineLighthouse.org)

About the American Alliance of Museums:

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org)

Sept. 4: New Ghost Hunters episode at the St. Augustine Lighthouse airs on A&E

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – They’re back! Attention Ghost Hunter fans: Third time’s a charm! The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will be featured at 9 p.m. Wednesday, September 4 on A&E in a new episode of Ghost Hunters called “Return to St. Augustine.” Prior to 2019, the original Ghost Hunters (TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society), filmed at the St. Augustine Lighthouse in 2006 and 2008.

From the A&E website: “Grant (Wilson) returns to the St. Augustine Lighthouse, site of some of the most compelling paranormal evidence ever captured in Ghost Hunters history when the team is summoned to investigate a reported increase in paranormal activity, both in and around the undeniably haunted landmark. …”

The film production company (Pilgrim Media Group) reached out to lighthouse staff in March, asking if Ghost Hunters could return to the Museum.

“I’m working on the new season of Ghost Hunters and we want to have our team revisit a handful of the BEST locations from the show’s first 11 seasons. Obviously, St. Augustine is one of the best episodes we’ve ever done, so naturally we’d love to come back if you’ll have us… We’d like to have our team spend 2-3 nights investigating, after hours,” said John Fitzpatrick, Segment Producer with Pilgrim Media Group, a Lionsgate Company.

Filming took place in May of this year, organized by Kelcie Lloyd, Special Programs Manager for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Lloyd is a guide and manages the staff for Dark of the Moon Ghost Tours. She also will be featured on the episode.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse, built from 1871-74.

“I’ve been here for a number other filming including the WWE, some smaller companies, and many YouTube videos. I’m behind the scenes in most of the videos, as I have a preference to not be on film, but that wasn’t the case for Ghost Hunters,” Lloyd said.

“The Ghost Hunters and the crew are some of the nicest people I’ve met. Some nights they filmed until the wee hours of the morning and were still polite and thankful that we (staff) were there. They were very respectful of the fact we were a historical site and an active attraction,” Lloyd explained.

Dark of the Moon Ghost Tours feature ghost stories that include history about the first lighthouse, called the Spanish Watchtower, and the current St. Augustine Lighthouse. The most popular story includes the two Pittee sisters and their playmate who drowned in 1873 during construction of the current tower. Another popular story includes lighthouse keeper Joseph Andreu, who fell to his death white-washing the Spanish Watchtower, and his wife, Maria, who became the first female lighthouse keeper in Florida.

The 1874 Keepers’ House at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

“Our Dark of the Moon Ghost Tours help to support our Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program at the nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, explained Executive Director Kathy Fleming. “Everything we do at the Museum saves our maritime past.”

Also on September 4, the episode featuring the St. Augustine Lighthouse from 2006 will be shown at 4 p.m. on A&E, followed by the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse at 5 p.m., and the Pensacola Lighthouse at 6 p.m.

From the A&E website: “Fifteen years after introducing the world to the field of authentic paranormal investigation, ‘Ghost Hunters’ returns to television. The series that terrified and captivated fans for 11 seasons will follow one of the original team leaders, Grant Wilson, and his handpicked group of professional ghost hunters as they use their decades of field experience to investigate hauntings across the country. Engaging forensic experts, historical records and the most innovative technology available, the new squad will help everyday people who are struggling with unexplained supernatural phenomena. The team is committed to discovering the truth to give relief to those plagued by paranormal activity and will follow the evidence they uncover wherever it may lead.”

“It’s going to be exciting to see what kind of things the Ghost Hunters find. It might make working nights a little more unsettling,” said Megan Cejmer, Specialty Program Assistant Manager and Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour guide at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse and twitter.com/firstlighthouse


ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:

A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (StAugustineLighthouse.org)

About the American Alliance of Museums:

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org)