Exploring the Rich History of the St. Simons Island Lighthouse
Calling all history buffs! For those with an interest in Southern history, St. Simons Island is home to several historical monuments and historical sites. One extremely popular spot is the St. Simons Lighthouse and Museum, located just a few minutes from the village and pier. Both those who are permanent residents of St. Simons and those who call St. Simons their temporary home, the history of St. Simons remains rich and full of exciting opportunities to explore and learn more about the past.
The original lighthouse of St. Simons’ island was built in 1810 by James Gould of Massachusetts. During the Civil War, the lighthouse was destroyed by troops with the hopes of preventing it from being used to help the navigation of Union warships along the coast. Approximately ten years later in 1872, the lighthouse was subsequently rebuilt, along with the Keeper’s Dwelling. The design was supervised by Orlando Poe, a chief engineer for the U.S. Lighthouse Board. Constructed of Savannah grey brick, the lighthouse built in 1872 still stands today—a rather stunning achievement, the lighthouse reaches 104 feet fall and continues to project light. Although we have electricity to thank today for the projection of the light, up until the 1930s the light was converted from kerosene oil.
Today, the St. Simons Island Lighthouse is an Active Aid to Navigation and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Now painted solid white with black accents, the lighthouse is a beautiful fixture on the St. Simons shoreline. Since the lighthouse is fully automated, the Keeper’s Dwelling now remains in use as a museum. It was restored by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society in 1975 and now is home to a variety of artifacts and a deep historical exploration of the lighthouse’s compelling history. For those who don’t mind a bit of exercise, the Historical Society permits visitors to climb all 129 steps and enjoy the magnificent view at the top.
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Photo courtesy of seathelights.com