St. Augustine Lighthouse . Anastasia Island . Florida . Watercolor . 14" x 20"
... Several simple light structures were erected by the Spanish, near the mouth of Matanzas River, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean... following their arrival and colonization of the Florida Peninsula, in the years between 1565... until the Florida Territory's acquisition by the United States in 1821. Then, in 1824, the Congress of the United States authorized the modification of an existing Spanish masonry tower on Anastasia Island, into a lighthouse. That structure fell down in 1880, although it had been in danger of collapse from erosion for over a decade and a new tower had already been built and put into service nearby. Paul J. Pelz designed the current, 165-foot, light tower and construction had commenced in 1872. Its first-order Fresnel lens was lit in 1874. The large and elaborate, duplex keeper's house was completed in 1875 with two semi-attached brick kitchens added in 1888. The keeper's house was deactivated in the 1960s and after years of neglect has been restored. An adjacent new building is open as a museum and learning center. The present tower remains an active navigational aid with its fully restored original first-order Fresnel lens.