The St. Augustine Lighthouse

There’s more than just history that awaits at the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is an iconic landmark that has stood the test of time. Rising majestically above the coast, this towering beacon has witnessed centuries of maritime history and countless stories that continue to echo through its winding stairways.

The history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse dates back to the 16th century when the Spanish first established their presence in the region and had a very basic wooden watch tower close to where the pier stands today. 

As ships navigated the treacherous waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the need for a guiding light became paramount. In  the 1600’s the first masonry tower made of coquina was constructed and later modified to become the first lighthouse on Anastasia Island. This tour stood until crumbling to the sea in 1880.

By 1874, construction of the current lighthouse began, with its distinctive black and white stripes, it soon became a symbol of hope for mariners seeking safe passage and apparently spirits too!



st augustine lighthouse keeper

The St. Augustine Lighthouse, a favorite of both maritime and paranormal enthusiasts holds secrets that go beyond the realm of the ordinary. Over the years, numerous accounts of ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena have added an air of mystery to this beloved landmark. Tales of spectral apparitions, disembodied voices, and strange occurrences have captured the imagination of visitors.

One of the most enduring stories is that of Hezekiah Pittee, superintendent of construction of the current tower, who tragically lost two daughters and their friend in a horrific accident on the grounds where the St. Augustine Yacht club exists today. It is said that their spirits still linger within the area, making their presence known through whispers in the wind and eerie manifestations.

Visitors have reported sensing  spectral presences, witnessing objects moving on their own, and even hearing laughter echoing from empty rooms.

As you ascend the spiraling staircase, each step steeped in history, you can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation mingled with trepidation. The panoramic view from the top is breathtaking, offering a glimpse into the lighthouse’s maritime legacy and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t be surprised if you feel a chill in the air and a tingling on the back of your neck, for the spirits that reside within these walls are never far away.


A Beacon of Light

As twilight descends upon the coastal city of St. Augustine, a radiant beacon emerges from the darkness, illuminating the way for weary seafarers and guiding them safely to shore. The St. Augustine Lighthouse, standing tall and proud, has been a steadfast symbol of hope for centuries.

The lighthouse’s towering presence, with its distinctive black and white stripes, evokes a sense of awe and wonder. Its light pierces through the night, casting its brilliance across the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. For sailors navigating treacherous waters, this beacon of hope offers solace in the face of uncertainty, a reassuring reminder that land is near.

Throughout history, the St. Augustine Lighthouse has witnessed countless tales of triumph and tragedy. Shipwrecks and storms have tested the mettle of brave sailors, but the guiding light of the lighthouse has stood unwavering, a symbol of resilience and fortitude. It has guided ships safely to harbor, serving as a lifeline in moments of peril.

But the lighthouse is more than just a navigational aid; it holds a special place in the hearts of the local community. It has witnessed generations come and go, offering solace and a sense of belonging to those who call St. Augustine home. Its light has guided families through generations, a beacon that marks the passage of time and the enduring spirit of the city.

Today, the St. Augustine Lighthouse continues to inspire awe and wonder in all who behold it. Its towering presence and captivating history make it a must-visit destination for curious travelers and history enthusiasts. As you ascend its spiral staircase, you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence, for you are treading the same path as countless others who have sought the comfort of its light.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse remains a beacon of hope, casting its radiant glow not only across the vast ocean but also into the hearts of those who gaze upon it. It serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always a guiding light to lead us home.

the first lighthouse tower in st augustine florida

The First Tower

Historians argue two sides of a coin, some consider that St. Augustine has been the site of four consecutive towers, others consider only the two masonry towers that have cast their light over Anastasia Island. By most accounts the original wooden towers were more of a guard tower/ lookout than an actual lighthouse. The 3rd tower, was the first one made of masonry, and by many considered to be the first light tower.

In 1823, John Rodman, Collector of St. Augustine, wrote to Stephen Pleasonton, Fifth Auditor of the U.S. Treasury, that despite the tower’s presence, “…it was never built for a lighthouse or used as one, but merely a look-out-house. The location is well suited…but a great proportion of the tower, nearly one half, is not sufficiently strong to bear any greater elevation either if wood or stone work.” Congress appropriated $5,000 to retrofit and complete the lighthouse and awarded the contract to Elias Wallen who reported on March 25, 1824 that the lighthouse was operational and that Winslow Lewis fit the new beacon with “ten patent lamps and ten fourteen inch reflectors.” -Excerpt taken from

Mother Nature Reclaims Her Own

In the annals of the St. Augustine Lighthouse’s storied past, there exists a chapter that tells a tale of nature’s relentless power and the fleeting nature of man-made structures. It is a tale of the wooden tower, once a steadfast guardian of the coast, succumbing to the mighty forces of the ocean.

For decades, the wooden watchtower had faithfully guided seafarers with its flickering light, a beacon of hope in the darkness. Yet, despite its vital role, it could not withstand the relentless onslaught of time and the elements. As the years passed, the salt-laden air, the unyielding winds, and the relentless pounding of the waves began to take their toll.

Like an ancient warrior engaged in a timeless battle, the wooden tower valiantly fought against the natural forces, but in the end, it could not defy Mother Nature’s inexorable grip. As the foundation weakened, cracks appeared in the structure’s weathered facade, and the signs of its impending demise became impossible to ignore.

Then, on that fateful day, when the tempestuous sea unleashed its fury, the wooden tower could resist no longer. With a thunderous crash, it succumbed to the ceaseless assault, collapsing into the churning depths below. The ocean claimed its prize, reclaiming the remnants of the once-proud sentinel that had guarded the shores for so long.

The fall of the wooden tower serves as a poignant reminder of the transitory nature of human endeavors in the face of nature’s immense power. It stands as a testament to the strength and volatility of the marine environment, where even the most steadfast structures can eventually yield to the relentless forces at play.

Yet, from the remains of the fallen tower emerged a renewed determination to protect and guide mariners. It spurred the construction of the first masonry tower, a boxy tower of sorts rising above the turbulent waters, it would stand for almost two centuries before Mother Nature would claim that old coquina tower for its own, just as she had done with its wooden predecessor. That original coquina tower lies in a watery grave just beyond the Yacht Club, its remnants still surface at just the right tide & time each day.


A New Beginning

By the late 1860’s engineers knew that the old coquina tower was destined to be lost to the sea, and in 1872 construction began on the current St. Augustine Lighthouse.

With meticulous planning and unwavering dedication, skilled craftsmen set to work, their hands guided by a vision of creating a structure that would withstand the tests of time and nature’s fury. Brick by brick, the tower emerged.

As the masonry tower grew in height, so did the hopes and aspirations of those involved in its construction. Each meticulously crafted brick, each precisely placed beam, bore witness to the collective determination to build a lighthouse that would not only guide ships but also inspire awe and admiration for generations to come.

As the final stone was laid and the tower reached its full height, a sense of pride and accomplishment permeated the air. The St. Augustine Lighthouse stood tall and unwavering, its light piercing the darkness with a renewed sense of purpose.

Today, visitors who ascend its spiral staircase are transported back in time, feeling the weight of history and the immense responsibility carried by those who have tended to its light over the years. As they gaze out from the tower’s pinnacle, they are reminded of the strength and determination it took to build this magnificent structure—an enduring symbol of hope, resilience, and the enduring bond between land and sea.

st augustine lighthouse vintage photo of house and tower base

Tragedy Dims The Light

Beneath the majestic oaks and the guiding light of the St. Augustine Lighthouse lies a history marred by tragedy. Over the years, this property has witnessed unfortunate accidents that have left a lasting impact on the community.

In 1859 tragedy struck one fateful day, Captain Andreu fell as the scaffolding he was standing upon to whitewash the old coquina tower collapsed and sent him tumbling down in a harrowing descent. The keeper’s life was tragically cut short, leaving behind a somber reminder of the dangers that accompanied their noble tasks.

It’s easy to forget that the job of a lighthouse keeper was not a typical 9-5 job. The keepers were on site continuously, their families lived, worked, and played on site too. When illness struck, and it would from time to time, tragedy and mourning would become prevalent, but the light would still have to be tended to.

These unfortunate accidents cast a somber shadow over the St. Augustine Lighthouse, reminding all who visit of the risks and sacrifices endured by those who tended to its light. It serves as a poignant reminder that even in the pursuit of safeguarding others, tragedy can strike unexpectedly, leaving behind a profound impact on the lives intertwined with this historic structure.



the three petie sisters vintage photo

The Three Girls: The True History

This haunting tale continues to capture the imagination of visitors, as the spirits of three young girls are said to linger within the lighthouse grounds, forever bound to this ethereal realm.

  July 10, 1873 tragedy struck the lives of two sisters and their young friend, while innocently playing on the grounds under the shadow of the tower being constructed by their families. It was within these hallowed grounds that their lives would be forever changed.

Since that tragic day, reports of ghostly encounters have echoed throughout the Keepers House, tower, & the park beyond. Visitors and staff alike have shared spine-chilling tales of mysterious laughter, faint whispers, and the haunting presence of three playful spirits roaming the premises. Some have even reported seeing apparitions of young girls, their ethereal forms dancing amidst the flickering light.

These ghostly encounters have both intrigued and unnerved those who dare to venture into Lighthouse Park after dark. Paranormal investigators and mediums have sought to communicate with the spirits, hoping to unravel the mysteries surrounding their untimely demise. 

Despite the haunting nature of their presence, the spirits of these three young girls are timid but friendly, forever etched in the fabric of the lighthouse’s history. Their apparitions serve as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the enduring imprint that tragedy can leave behind.

A New Day: Restoration

Just as the St. Augustine Lighthouse has weathered the storms of time and tragedy, it has also experienced moments of renewal and restoration. In the face of adversity, dedicated individuals and organizations have come together to breathe new life into this historic landmark, ensuring its preservation for future generations to marvel at and appreciate.

The restoration efforts that have taken place at the St. Augustine Lighthouse are a testament to the enduring spirit of community and the commitment to safeguarding our shared heritage. With meticulous care and attention to detail, experts and preservationists have worked tirelessly to revive the Keeper’s House, breathing fresh vitality into its weathered walls and timeworn beauty.

Every nook and cranny of the lighthouse has been carefully examined and restored, from the intricate ironwork to the majestic tower itself. Skilled craftsmen have painstakingly repaired and replaced damaged components, ensuring that the lighthouse stands tall and proud, just as it did in its early days.

As visitors ascend the tower’s steps, they can witness the interplay of light and shadows, the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and the sense of awe that fills the air creating an immersive experience like no other. It is a testament to the unwavering dedication of those who have poured their hearts and souls into preserving this iconic structure.

The restoration of the St. Augustine Lighthouse stands as a reminder of the importance of cherishing our cultural heritage and safeguarding the treasures of the past. It is a celebration of resilience, renewal, and the enduring legacy of this historic beacon. With each passing day, the lighthouse stands as a beacon of hope, inviting visitors to step into its restored embrace and witness the timeless beauty that has captivated hearts for generations.

Spend A Night Among Ghosts at The St Augustine Lighthouse

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of Florida’s most famously haunted structures. looming 165 feet above America’s Oldest City, serving as a beacon for not only those of the living, but also drawing those in spirit who remain. Join us for the next time we go beyond the light and investigate this fascinating historic area. This investigation also includes the 1876 Keeper’s House and grounds, as well as the hauntingly famous Lighthouse Park. Our last investigation yielded epic evidence and strange encounters. We look forward to the next A Night Among Ghosts at the St. Augustine Lighthouse!

st augustine lighthouse vintage photo of house and tower base

Visit During the Day

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum should certainly be a stop on your St. Augustine itinerary. By day there are numerous things to see and do for all ages. From historical exhibits to nature trails through the hammock, play areas, and good food, you can easily make a day of exploring at the Lighthouse. Top it off with a walk through the Keeper’s House and a climb of the tower. When you reach the top of the 219 stairs, take a deep breath and soak in the salty marsh air and all the centuries of history!