Today this is an active lighthouse on Anastasia Island and is St Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure. In its history it went back and forth between Watchtower to Lighthouse many times. The Spanish erected the first wooden Watchtower during the building of the Costello De San Marcos to keep enemy ships from taking the island. A flame sat atop the Watchtower but was too weak to effectively signal ships.
St Augustine became an important port after Ponce de Leon discovered the Gulfstream. Sir Francis Drake burned the Watchtower to the ground during an attack in 1586.
In 1737 the Watchtower was replaced with a 30 ft Tower made of Coquina Rock and wood. The Coquina Lighthouse lasted for 200 years but fell to shoreline erosion in 1880.
The current Lighthouse was built between 1871 and 1874 and was 165 ft tall with a fixed light which could be seen for 17 nautical miles. It was equipped with Winslow Lewis lamps with reflectors in 1824 which were replaced with Fresnel lens in 1874. This lens was 12 ft tall 6 ft across composed of 370 handcuffed prisms arranged in a beehive formation.
It’s quite a trek to the top with 219 steps but worth it for the spectacular view. The Keeper’s House sitting next to the lighthouse was built in 1876 and it now serves as a marvelous Museum. Concessionaires sell great food, local beer and wine at the at a good price.
There’s even a zip line that runs from the top of the tower to the Alligator Farm. Hang On!
David Garland FL St. Augustine Dec 19, 2022 Back in Time History Museums