Tag Archives: Storm Wreck

Storm Wreck, a 1782 St. Augustine shipwreck, added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places

Pulling up an artifact on the site of Storm Wreck shipwreck. The cannon is now on display in the Wrecked! exhibit at the Museum.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – On Friday, November 3rd, Florida Department of State Secretary Ken Detzner announced three Florida resources on the National Register of Historic Places. Amongst the three was Storm Wreck, a wrecked British Loyalist ship from 1782 discovered by St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) archaeologists in 2009. The site now joins only a handful of other inaccessible offshore wrecks given this designation of distinction due to the level of its historical significance.

In a press release from the State of Florida on Friday, Secretary Detzner says, “I am pleased to announce the designation of these three resources on the National Register of Historic Places. The Michigan Avenue Bridge is one of the last bobtail swing span bridges in our state, and Oaklawn Cemetery, the first public cemetery in Tampa, has been a consistent presence in the city’s history. The Storm Wreck, a mile off the shore of St. Augustine, dates back to the American Revolution. These resources demonstrate the wide variety of historic sites throughout Florida.”

From 2009 to 2015, LAMP archaeologists mapped, recorded and excavated the site. Since then, conservators at the Museum in partnership with the Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Archaeological Research Conservation Laboratory have worked together to preserve the objects and ready them for display at the Museum’s Wrecked! exhibit. The wreck site is one mile off St. Augustine’s coast and therefore inaccessible to the public, but the artifacts found onsite of Storm Wreck are now on display daily at the Museum. The Wrecked! exhibit tells the story of Charleston colonists seeking refuge in one of the last colonies loyal to the British Crown, which at the time was St. Augustine. The ship itself has not been identified but LAMP archaeologists were able to determine that the ship was one of sixteen in total making this desperate journey to a safe harbor when it ran aground on St. Augustine’s dangerous sandbars.

When asked what this designation means for the shipwreck and its story, LAMP Director Chuck Meide says, “the Storm Wreck is of national significance for two primary reasons. The first is that this ship brings to life such a dynamic yet mostly forgotten story, that of American Loyalists seeking refuge in British Florida during the Revolution. The second reason is that this shipwreck is full of stuff—it is a well-preserved time capsule with thousands of artifacts related to the daily life of Americans during the Revolution. It’s wonderful to see such a world-class shipwreck get the recognition and protection it deserves.”

The Museum looks forward to seeing more important archaeological sites such as Storm Wreck added to the Register in the future as the designation helps facilitate meaningful preservation efforts. In the meantime, locals and visitors alike are encouraged to go to the Museum to see artifacts such as the ship’s bell, personal belongings and 18th century weaponry on display in the exhibit.


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)

The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service which includes historical or archaeological properties including buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts, that are considered worthy of preservation because of their local, statewide and/or national significance. Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. Florida has over 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 292 historic districts and 174 archaeological sites. There are more than 50,000 sites contributing to the National Register in Florida. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/national-register. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places program administered by the National Park Service, visit nps.gov/nr.

The Bureau of Historic Preservation (BHP) conducts historic preservation programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, preserving and interpreting the historic and cultural resources of the state. The Bureau manages the Florida Main Street Program, and under federal and state laws, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program for Florida, maintains an inventory of the state’s historical resources in the Florida Master Site File, assists applicants in federal tax benefit and local government ad valorem tax relief programs for historic buildings, and reviews the impact that development projects may have on significant historic resources. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation.

Wrecked! Uncover the Secrets Behind Artifact Conservation

From now until our Wrecked! Exhibition Grand Opening on May 5th, we will be sharing weekly videos with insights on the new exhibit every Tuesday on Periscope, followed by a re-cap blog post and video every Wednesday. Follow along as we unveil this exciting new exhibit at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum!

How do you restore an artifact that’s been on the ocean floor for over 200 years?

From the moment we began excavating the 1782 British loyalist shipwreck off St. Augustine’s coast in 2010, our team of archaeological conservators faced the monumental task of cleaning up all of the recovered artifacts.

Over the six field seasons spent diving on this wreck, now the subject of our new Wrecked! exhibition, more than 600 artifacts were recovered. Each one requires careful attention, from removing the outer crust to removing all of the salt soaked into the artifacts, this critical and tedious process means the difference between saving history and destroying it.

In this week’s video, take an inside look at Wrecked! with two of our conservators — Director of Archaeological Conservation Starr Cox and Assistant Archaeological Conservator Andrew Thomson — as they share what some of the exhibit artifacts looked like before conservation and some insights into the process of saving these one-of-a-kind pieces.

Video Highlights:

  • 0:31 – See what a concreted artifact looks like when it’s first recovered.
  • 1:25 – How are different types of materials treated in conservation?
  • 2:39 – What did the cannon look like when it was first recovered?
  • 3:25 – How do you conserve a shipwreck cannon?
  • 5:35 – What special item was found inside a cauldron that gave us insight into life on board the ship?
  • 6:14 – What clue was part of the concretion surrounding the ship’s bell?
  • 7:28 – What did each of our conservators enjoy the most about working on this exhibit?

Wrecked! Go Behind-the-Scenes with Lighthouse Archaeologists

From now until our Wrecked! Exhibition Grand Opening on May 5th, we will be sharing weekly videos with insights on the new exhibit every Tuesday on Periscope, followed by a re-cap blog post and video every Wednesday. Follow along as we unveil this exciting new exhibit at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum!

Do you know how archaeologists find shipwrecks?

This and many other questions about the science behind underwater archaeology are answered in our new shipwreck exhibit, Wrecked!.

In this week’s sneak peek video, go behind-the-scenes in the new exhibit with Chuck Meide, Director of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), and Olivia McDaniel, Lighthouse Archaeologist.

Video Highlights:

  • 0:58 – When was this shipwreck found?
  • 2:21 – How do archaeologists document shipwrecks?
  • 3:43 – Special “Hello” from an underwater diver!
  • 4:44 – See hanks, iron spikes and bits of sail cloth recovered from this shipwreck.
  • 5:14 – Did you know sailors marked their spoons?
  • 5:50 – How did uniform buttons help solve the puzzle behind this shipwreck?
  • 6:53 – What amazing thing was found inside a cauldron on the shipwreck?
  • 8:08 – Why are there ax marks in the ship’s deck pump?
  • 10:16 – What was it like when this ship ran aground?
  • 11:38 – How many cannons were found on this shipwreck?
  • 13:05 – What was it like when archaeologists recovered the cannon?
  • 13:32 – What clue were archaeologists hoping to find on the ship’s bell?

Wrecked! Preview Video With Exhibit Curators

From now until our Wrecked! Exhibition Grand Opening on May 5th, we will be sharing weekly videos with insights on the new exhibit every Tuesday on Periscope, followed by a re-cap blog post and video every Wednesday. Follow along as we unveil this exciting new exhibit at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum!

This past weekend, something REALLY big happened.

We opened the doors to our newest exhibition, Wrecked!, to share it with the public for the FIRST time.

This “soft opening” is a little scary for us, after six years of excavation and four years of exhibit planning, we are exposing our new Museum baby to the world for the first time.

So far, the reviews have been fantastic! People are really enjoying the artifacts, the interactive games, the insights from Star Waters, and the overall feel of the exhibit.

We know YOU can’t wait to see it too, so we thought we would bring you a little sneak peek with the staff curators of our new exhibit, Division Director of Collections & Interpretation Brenda Swann and Director of Interpretation Paul Zielinski.

Check out the video below (which originally aired in full on Periscope — go follow us there for more videos leading up to the big exhibit launch!) and get your first look inside the completed exhibit.

Video Highlights:

  • 1:35 – Star Waters Interactive Video Game
  • 3:22 – X-Ray Station and Magnetometer Survey Experience
  • 3:50 – Introduction to the Sand Bar
  • 5:20 – Cistern Art Installation
  • 5:48 – Gold Coin Recovered from Shipwreck
  • 6:20 – Shipwreck Cannon and Lead Deck Pump Artifacts
  • 7:11 – Ship’s Bell Artifact
  • 7:54 – Meet Star Waters!
  • 9:16 – Find Out More About Wrecked!

An Unexpected Find!

Recently, one of our dedicated volunteers, Ed Coward, discovered something pretty fascinating. Ed comes in every Thursday to help out with artifact conservation, and he typically spends the day airscribing. This is one of our dirtiest jobs, but somehow Ed manages to stay pretty clean throughout the process as you can see in the photo.

Airscribing is the process of removing concretion (build up of sand, shells, and sediment) from artifacts that have been recovered by the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP).

Volunteer, Ed Coward, airscribing a concretion.
Volunteer, Ed Coward, airscribing a concretion.

Ed is currently working on an artifact (12S 200) from the Storm Wreck that was recovered in 2012. To get a better idea of what is inside of a concretion, we always take X-rays. These can help the conservators know where to start working, or help them find small, fragile artifacts within the concretion.

When we first looked at the X-ray image for 12S 200, we knew right away that three things were present: A hammer, nails, and a padlock.

Concretion 12S 200.1
Concretion 12S 200.1

Because the hammer and padlock were very fragile, our Assistant Archaeological Conservator, Andrew Thomson, removed those items before Ed began work on the concretion. So what we’re focused on are the nails.

You’re probably thinking “What in the world could be fascinating about nails?” right?

Well, we were too! Continue reading