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Timeline for Light Station History

 

Timeline for Light Station History

 

1768

Dr. Andrew Turnbull brings nearly 1500 colonists from the Mediterranean area to Florida and founds a settlement at New Smyrna.   Antonio Pons and Andreas Pacetti are among the colonists.  In 1777, the colonists revolt and march to St. Augustine for refuge.

 

1774

The British Royal Governor establishes a bonfire beacon on the north side of Florida's Mosquito Inlet to assist ships "crossing the bar."

 

1783

Second Treaty of Paris at the end of the American War of Independence returns Florida to Spanish rule as the British in America are defeated.  The Spanish give land grants to those St. Augustine residents who are both Catholic and loyal to Spain.  Antonio Pons receives a grant for land at Mosquito Inlet.

 

1789

The ninth law of the new government of the United States creates the Light-House Establishment (USLHE).  The government assumes responsibility for all aids to navigation and takes over all the lighthouses.  Financing for lighthouses is placed within the Treasury Department.

 

1820-1852

Aids to navigation fall under the control of the 5th Auditor of the Treasury Department, Stephen Pleasonton.  He is notoriously thrifty, and lighthouse construction and upkeep falter under his leadership.  He relies on inexperienced political appointees and friends for advice, and uses the lamp design of his friend Winslow Lewis for lighthouses rather than the new and superior Fresnel lens technology.

 

1821

The Spanish realize they cannot maintain control of Florida and turn it over to the US government in exchange for territory in Texas. Florida is divided into several large counties.  Escambia is west of the Suwannee River and St. Johns County is east of the river. 

 

1822

Augustin-Jean Fresnel develops the Fresnel lens for use in lighthouse illumination.

 

1829

Florida's St. Johns County is divided to form Mosquito County. 

 

1830

A group of 38 local plantation owners from Florida's Mosquito County petition the territorial government for a lighthouse to mark Mosquito Inlet.

 

1835-1836

A lighthouse is constructed on the south side of Mosquito Inlet.  This 45 foot tower is never illuminated since the oil needed for the Winslow Lewis chandelier lamps is never delivered.  In October a violent storm undermines the tower nearly killing the family of keeper William H. Williams.  Williams himself 1s away at the time. Two months later, the tower is ransacked by Seminole Indians.  In April of 1836, the tower collapses into the sea as the result of continuing erosion and the effects of another strong storm.

 

1843

Bartola C. Pacetti, a grandson of Andreas Pacetti, comes to the Mosquito Inlet land grant.  Andreas' first marriage had been to Gertrude Pons and this may have been the connection that eventually resulted in Bartola becoming part owner of the Mosquito Inlet land grant to Antonio Pons. Mercedes Triay, also a Pacetti and Pons descendant, marries Bartola Pacetti's brother, Gomecindo.  She is part owner of the land grant at Mosquito Inlet.

 

1845

Florida becomes a state.  Mosquito County is divided into St. Lucia County (Brevard) and Orange County.

 

1850-1852

Congress investigates the state of American lighthouses and removes Stephen Pleasonton from his position. A nine-member US Light-House Board is created and the Light-House Establishment is professionalized.  A system of classifying navigational aids is introduced, and the use of unique paint schemes (called daymarks) to identify lighthouses is begun. The country is divided into 12 lighthouse districts, each overseen by an inspector.

 

1850-1870

During these years, most of the US lighthouses are equipped with Fresnel lenses to replace the inefficient and outdated Winslow Lewis lamps.

 

1854

Orange County is divided and a portion becomes Volusia County. Until 1887, this division includes most of what is today known as Lake County and which officially became Lake County in July of 1887. Osceola and Seminole Counties were also created from portions of Orange County in 1854.

 

1857-1910

This is the era of the brick giant lighthouses which were constructed along the US coastline and Great Lakes.  These masonry lighthouses stood between 100-193 feet in height and were lit by Fresnel lenses. One of the last brick giants is completed at Florida's Mosquito Inlet in 1887.

 

1860

Bartola Pacetti marries Martha Jane Wickwire. The couple moves to Spruce Creek for the duration of the Civil War. They return to their home at Mosquito Inlet at the war's end.

 

1861-1865

During the American Civil War, the Mosquito Inlet area becomes a hiding place for  Confederate boats trying to circumvent the Union's shipping blockades.

 

1862

The April 12, 1862, Harper's Weekly, page 225, reports a "Fatal Affair at Mosquito Inlet, Florida"   The Navy Department sends an expedition from the fleet of Commodore DuPont into Mosquito Inlet via the Penguin, commanded by Lt. F. A. Budd, and by the Henry Andrew, commanded by W. Mather. In an action with Confederates, both these officers are killed, together with 6 seamen.  Seven other men are wounded. 

 

1867

The federal government orders a Barbier et Fenestre 1st order Fresnel lens to be imported from Paris, France.  The cost of the lens was $15,280.19, and it would eventually be installed in the tower at the Mosquito Inlet Light Station.

 

1868

Florida is readmitted to the Union.

 

1876

The Light-House Establishment, under the direction of Arnold Johnson (chief clerk of the Lighthouse Board from 1869-1915) begins distributing small boxed libraries, first to light ships and then to the lighthouses.  These are exchanged during the quarterly inspections of the stations.  The libraries contain a mix of novels, histories, biographies, adventure stories, religion, and magazines.  That same year, Daytona, Florida, is incorporated and named for Mathias Day who had purchased land from local plantation owner Samuel Williams in 1787.  Day builds a hotel on this land and the town grows up around it.

 

 

1883

Standard lighthouse keeper uniforms are introduced. At the time, the Light-House Board advised: “It is believed that uniforming the personnel of the service, some 1,600 in number, will aid in maintaining its discipline, increase its efficiency, raise its tone, and add to the esprit de corps.” Official uniforms for women keepers are never developed. Also that year, Congress appropriates $30,000 for the actual site purchase and construction of a new lighthouse at Mosquito Inlet in Florida. The Light-House Board requests an additional $100,000 to complete the work.  The lighthouse is to be located on the inlet's north shore, unlike the 1835 lighthouse, which was built on the south shore.

 

1884

Ten acres of land at Mosquito Inlet are purchased for $400 from Bartola Pacetti for the new light station.  The tower is to be a brick giant, 175 feet tall. A landing platform is constructed on the Halifax River at the light station site as a place for unloading supplies from ships. In March, a tramway is constructed from the river shore to the site of the tower. Orville Babcock, the project's chief engineer, purchases land nearby and constructs a home for himself.  He has future plans to create a resort on his land. Babcock and several companions are drowned in the inlet in early June as construction of the new light station is about to begin. He is replaced by Jared Smith. 

 

1884-85

Bartola Pacetti adds hotel rooms to his house by using his profits from the sale of land for the light station.  His son Henry loses a leg while helping to bring in bricks for the construction of the lighthouse. Henry eventually dies from his injury.  A landing platform is constructed on the river shore as a place for unloading supplies.  A tramway was installed to help carry supplies to the tower construction site.

 

1885

A new appropriation of $40,000 becomes available but work stops for the summer "sickly season."  Mosquito Inlet is aptly named for the hordes of mosquitoes that are common in warmer weather. Malaria carried by these insects is a constant threat in the summer. Herbert Bamber is hired by Jared Smith as the superintendent of construction at Mosquito Inlet.  Smith is also overseeing construction of the Volusia Bar Lighthouse on nearby Lake George and can use the help.

 

1886

The January 28 issue of the weekly Halifax Journal reports that out of the eight or ten schooners employed in the lighthouse work, five have been wrecked on the bar or in the river, and as many as six men have been drowned. Congress approves an additional $50,000 for the light station. The Great Charleston earthquake is felt from Canada to Key West. The city of Charleston is nearly destroyed and many east coast lighthouses are affected.  No damage is reported from Mosquito Inlet.   The St. Johns and Halifax River Railroad, which runs from Rawlston in Putnam County on the St. Johns River, to New Briton (the present-day Ormond Beach) on the Halifax River, is established. The Volusia Bar Lighthouse is activated.  The Light-House Board increases the number of lighthouse districts to 16.  Jared Smith is replaced by James F. Gregory at the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse project.

 

1887

In March, another $20,000 is appropriated for the light station. The Mosquito Inlet Light Station is completed in late October at a total cost of nearly $200,000, and the 1st order Fresnel lens is lit for the first time on November 1.  The first principal keeper is William Rowlinski who is paid $720 per year plus a quarterly allotment of food supplies which include salt pork and beef, flour, brown sugar, coffee, tea, rice and beans or peas.  The lighthouse districts are reconfigured by 1887 so that all navigational aids south of Jupiter Inlet and including the Gulf coast are made part of the Seventh District.  Mosquito Inlet remains within the Sixth District.

 

1887-1893

William Rowlinski is principal keeper at the Mosquito Inlet Light Station. The tramway rails are removed and returned to the USLHE. The pathway to the river shore is covered by a wood plank walkway.

 

1890

The quarterly rations are stopped and the keepers' salaries are increased by about $40 per year to enable them to secure their own supplies.

 

1893-1905

Thomas O'Hagan is principal keeper.

 

1896 

The Light-House Establishment becomes part of the Civil Service which has the effect of distancing those jobs from political influence and appointments.

 

1897 

American author Stephen Crane, working as an undercover correspondent for the New York Post, joins a gun-running expedition to Cuba aboard the steam tug Commodore.  Their goal is to reach Cuba with supplies to aid the rebellion against Spanish rule of the island. The morning after her departure from Jacksonville, the ship sinks about 12 miles off Daytona.  Survivors credit the beacon from the lighthouse at Mosquito Inlet for giving them the direction in which to row their small boats.  Eight men die in the sinking, but Stephen Crane survives and writes his famous short story, "The Open Boat."

 

1898-1901 

The Spanish American War

 

1898 

During the Spanish American War, a halyard is placed on the main balcony of the lighthouse to enable communication by signal flags with passing American warships and vessels on their way to Cuba.  Also in 1898, Bartola Pacetti, owner of the land purchased for the Mosquito Inlet Light Station, dies and is buried in the Pacetti cemetery near their hotel.  In addition, this is also the year in which a "bird net" is first placed around the lighthouse lantern room to protect it from collisions by migrating birds.  After migration season, the net is removed until the next migration begins.

 

1901 

A one-room school house is created in the little village of Ponce Park which has grown up around the light station.  This is an official county school made possible by the large family of Principal Keeper Thomas O'Hagan.  Prior to the O'Hagan family's arrival, an unofficial school was held at the home of Nathaniel Hasty.  This is also the year in which Light-House Establishment engineer Orville Babcock's former home at Ponce Park is destroyed by fire.

 

1901-1903 

A 3rd order rotating Fresnel lens is constructed by the French firm Barbier, Benard et Turenne.  This lens is sent to a lighthouse at Sapelo Island, Georgia.  It will eventually end up at Mosquito (Ponce) Inlet Lighthouse in 1933 to replace the 1st order fixed lens in the tower.

 

1903 

The Light-House Establishment is transferred from the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor.  Also in 1903, the first official automobile racing event on the beach, a timed speed trial, is held in Ormond, just north of the beach at Daytona.  A program of federal bird reservations is established to protect native bird populations that are being decimated in large measure so that their feathers could decorate ladies' hats.  A bird reservation is established at Mosquito Inlet, and Bert Pacetti, a son of Bartola Pacetti, is eventually appointed as an official reservation inspector. In 1908-1909, the bird reservation program is continued.

 

1905 

Principal Keeper Thomas O'Hagan transfers away from Mosquito Inlet to take charge of the lighthouse at Amelia Island, Florida.

 

1905-1924

John Lindquist arrives as principal keeper at Mosquito Inlet, coming to the position from the Volusia Bar Lighthouse in nearby Lake George.

 

1906 

Major renovation work is begun at the lighthouse, the first since it was completed in 1887.  A new well is dug to provide a more reliable water source.

 

1907 

A windmill is added to the new well to aid in pumping up the water.  The windmill

tower features a triangular water tank.  This windmill will never work properly and is torn down in 1914.  Repairs are made to the entire light station, and a new frame boat house replaces an old thatched shed at the river landing.  The thatched shed becomes a storage shed for buoys and comes to be called the buoy house.  A real wharf is built at the river landing.  Screen doors are added to the keepers' houses.

 

1908

A road from Port Orange to Ponce Park is completed.  A number of whales are driven ashore near the lighthouse.  The largest is 40 feet long.

 

 

1909 

On December 29, keeper John Lindquist records a temperature of eight degrees below zero at the top of the tower.  The lighthouse beacon is upgraded when an incandescent oil vapor lamp replaces the five concentric wick kerosene lamp inside the 1st order lens.  A cement walkway is installed over the path of the old tramway to the river shore

 

1910

The Light-House Board is replaced by a less militarized Bureau of Lighthouses which

 remains in control of the service until 1935.  The Light-House Establishment is renamed the

 United States Lighthouse Service (USLHS).  The number of districts is expanded from 16 to 19.

 

1911

On July 31, permission is granted by the USLHS to tear down the small frame office building remaining from the light station's original construction.  The building is actually not removed until 1913. 

 

1913

Major repairs are made to the light station and the tower is repointed. Wharf and dwellings are also repaired. The white picket fence is rebuilt and concrete fence posts are used to replace the original wooden ones.  The Department of Commerce and Labor is divided into the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. The Lighthouse Service is in the Department of Commerce.

 

1914

The Samson windmill is removed.

 

1914-1918

World War I.  In 1917 the US formally declares war on Germany and enters the war.  Woodrow Wilson is president. 

 

1915

The Coast Guard is formed from the Revenue Cutter Service, the Life-Saving Service, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Steamboat Inspection Service.   A pump house is built and a gasoline powered pump is installed to bring up water from the well into a new water tower with a cypress wood tank

 

1916

Health benefits are granted to Lighthouse Service employees.  A road from Daytona to the light station is completed. This road is paved with shells taken from area shell mounds left behind by the early Native American inhabitants. The lighthouse keepers' duties are expanded to include tending the buoys in Mosquito Inlet.  Each keeper receives a pay raise to compensate them for the new duties. Their new salaries are $880, $620, and $516 per year.  Keepers become eligible for health benefits.

 

1917

America enters the Great War, and the Lighthouse Service is transferred to navy control (although it remains classified as a civilian service) until 1919, when it is returned to the Department of Commerce. The lighthouse district inspector title officially changes to superintendent on June 20, 1918.  At Ponce Park, Martha Jane Wickwire Pacetti, wife of  the late Bartola Pacetti, dies. A telephone is installed and connects the light station to the light station at Jupiter Inlet. A new boat hoist is installed at the boat house. The old thatched boat house on the river shore is still standing and being called the buoy house.   Hurricanes damage the buoy house in 1916 and again in 1919.  It is finally demolished and replaced in 1934.

 

1918

The Great War ends.  As of June 20, 1918, Lighthouse Service personnel are granted retirement benefits. The classification of lighthouses and related employee salaries are updated. 

 

1919

First assistant keeper Joseph Davis dies while climbing the lighthouse tower. The Lighthouse Service is released from navy control and returned to the Department of Commerce.

 

1920

The Mosquito Inlet Light Station wharf is repaired.

 

1920-1933

The 18th amendment of 1920 prohibits the importing, exporting, transporting, selling, and manufacturing of intoxicating liquor which is defined as having alcohol content of 0.5 or above. This is repealed in 1933. Lighthouse keepers are asked to look for illegal shipments of alcohol being unloaded near their stations.

 

1921

Indoor bathrooms are added to the keepers' houses at Mosquito Inlet.  A radio antenna can be seen to the east of the second assistant dwelling in a Lighthouse Service photograph. The brick walkways are redone, and other general repairs are made. A corrugated metal garage and storage building is constructed to the north of the oil storage house.  This garage is removed in 1972. A major hurricane strikes Florida near Tampa in October, and crosses the state causing millions in damage. Longevity pay is established for Lighthouse Service vessel crews.

 

1922 

William Lindquist, son of and assistant to principal keeper John Lindquist is kicked by a horse and dies from his injuries.  The boat house and dock are repaired and rebuilt.

 

1923

The keepers’ dwellings are electrified by a new Fairbanks Morse light plant.  Knob and tube wiring is installed.  The new generator could run on either kerosene or gasoline, but gasoline proves to be the best fuel for the job, causing fewer problems with the motor. New windows are installed in tower lantern room.  All dwellings have their windows reglazed.  In June, the second assistant dwelling's roof catches fire.

 

1924

The Bureau of Lighthouses creates another new classification system for lighthouses with new salaries designated for these classifications. A lightning strike blows a hole in the roof of the second assistant keeper's dwelling.  Station call bells and phone line are out of commission due to the lightning.  The walkways are leveled and cleaned.

 

1924-1926

Charles Sisson is the new principal keeper.

 

1925

The Lighthouse Service publishes its new system of classifying lighthouses.  Employees are granted disability benefits. At Mosquito Inlet, a photograph shows a screen enclosure on the east half of the front porch of the first assistant keeper dwelling.  In October, a new floor is laid over the original flooring in the oil house to support new oil tanks that will replace the five-gallon cans.  The tanks are installed on October 12. On August 4, the nearby towns of Seabreeze, Kingston, Daytona and Daytona Beach are combined into a single city known as Daytona Beach.  The local newspaper, the Daytona Journal, changes its name to the Daytona Beach Journal as of the August 4th date.  

 

1926-1937

John Belton Butler is now the principal keeper.  

 

1926

The Lighthouse Service Airways Division is established. The breezeway of the principal keeper dwelling at Mosquito Inlet receives screen doors and windows in October.  The porches of all dwellings are screened. All dwelling windows receive replacement screens. Ponce de Leon Inlet is proposed as a new name for Mosquito Inlet.  The Florida Real Estate Boom is underway, and Mosquito Inlet does not seem to be an attractive name to developers.  The station's boat house is whitewashed and dock repairs are made.

 

1927

A June 1st decision of the US Geographic Board concludes that Ponce de Leon is now the correct name of the former Mosquito Inlet. In July, the Bureau of Lighthouses agrees to change the name of the Mosquito Inlet Light Station as of September 1st. The name of the light station is changed to Ponce de Leon to match the new name of the inlet.  The light station's flag pole is relocated, probably to the west side of the station, just outside the picket fence and alongside the road. A storm damages the oil storage building. It receives a new roof and two more new oil tanks. In April there is a major scrub fire.  The tower interior is whitewashed and the exterior is red washed with a mineral based coating.

 

1929

The wharf is rebuilt. The dock is moved, raised and lengthened,  plus the boat house is repaired and enlarged.  Pilings had been eaten away by some new creature in the water.  Also, the May keeper's log mentions the wash shed behind each dwelling being repaired.  Tower ironwork is repainted.  The first and second assistant dwellings get new water and sewer pipes.

 

1932 

A new cement walkway is built from near the oil storage house to the station's dock along part of the construction tramway site.

 

1933

The Bureau of Lighthouses decides to change the characteristic of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. The tower is electrified, and the rotating and flashing 3rd order Fresnel lens which had served at Sapelo Island, Georgia, is installed. The new characteristic is six half-second flashes in 15 seconds followed by a 15 second eclipse.   The old 1st order lens is shipped to the lighthouse supply depot at Staten Island, New York.  (This lens disappears until the 1990s when it is rediscovered at the Mystic Seaport Museum and returned to Ponce Inlet by the Coast Guard in 1997.)  Two LeRoi generators, once used at the St. Johns River Light, are installed in the generator room at Ponce Inlet.  Prohibition of alcohol is repealed. The Lighthouse Service Airways Division is transferred to the Aeronautics branch.  The two assistant keepers at Ponce Inlet are discontinued and replaced by a single relief keeper.

 

1934

The old buoy house on the shore is replaced with a new one after the old one is damaged by a hurricane.  A major brush fire almost overtakes the light station. The Lighthouse Service Airways Division is discontinued. The tower exterior is again red washed.

 

1936

A new LeRoi generator is ordered.

 

1937-1939

Edward L. Meyer is principal keeper.

 

1938

A Kohler generator is sent to the lighthouse to help provide power for a planned radio navigation beacon. A new Coast Guard station on the south shore of Ponce Inlet is completed, with Aubrey Harris in charge.

 

1939

On July 1, the Coast Guard officially takes over the Lighthouse Service and personnel are given the option of retiring, remaining civilians, or joining the Coast Guard.  This is done as per President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Reorganization Plan II, which disbanded the Lighthouse Service and transferred its locations, vessels, aids to navigation, and personnel into the Coast Guard. A ventilator installed in the ceiling of the woodshed side of the first assistant keeper's outbuilding. This will be the location of the new radio beacon's generators. All the buildings are re-shingled, gutters and downspouts renewed, a new plaster ceiling is installed in the principal keeper's kitchen, the cupola ventilator of principal keeper dwelling is repaired.  The white picket fencing is repaired and rebuilt as needed.

 

1939-1943

Edward Meyer joins the Coast Guard and becomes the first officer-in-charge (OIC) at the lighthouse.

 

1939

A radio room is established by the Coast Guard in the main bedroom of the first assistant keeper dwelling.  A lightning strike in July burns out the fuses, and the radio beacon does not go into operation until August.  The station’s unpublished call letters are WWCX, and on the frequency of 290 kilocycles it transmitted the Morse code letter L (dit dah dit dit) for one minute on the second minute of each third and sixth ten minute period of every hour in fair weather. (Broadcast for one minute at 21 and 51 minutes after each hour.) In bad weather the signal was sent every three minutes.  Ships use the Ponce signal plus signals from Jacksonville and Cape Canaveral to fix their positions relative to the Florida coast and to prepare to navigate around the dangerous Hetzel Shoal near Canaveral.  Also, a major cleanup and repair of the entire light station is undertaken.  All buildings receive roof repairs and new shingles, new copper valleys, flashings and gutters are installed on all buildings; the principal keeper kitchen is replastered, the fence pickets are replaced, and all refuse is hauled away.  Daytona Sheet Metal Works is the local contractor.

 

1940s

Volusia-Bethune Beach is established near Cape Canaveral as a destination set aside for minority use. Minorities are forbidden to use most beaches in the area.

 

1940

Two new Kohler generators are installed in the generator room.  One will run on gasoline and the other on kerosene.  Gasoline is found to be the more efficient fuel.  Mr. Corbett, the Coast Guard  radioman, temporarily moves onto the grounds in a small trailer with his wife. He is installing the radio beacon. (June-fall)

 

1941-1945

World War II.  The Coast Guard is placed under navy control as it was during WW I.

 

1942

Keepers' families are removed from the light station and the station eventually functions as a Coast Guard barracks, spotting station, and training location, as well as providing navigational guidance to coastal shipping with the radio beacon and the light at the top of the tower. The tower beacon is dimmed to a 50 watt bulb (from 500 watts), and the tower is used as a lookout post.  Coast Guard weather monitoring equipment is added to the top of the tower.  Major repairs are made to the wharf. The pump house door is replaced. New front steps are made for the first assistant dwelling and for the rear entrance of the principal keeper's house.

 

1943

In December, Keeper Edward Meyer turns the station over to CBM Leonard L. Galloway.  The radio room addition to the generator building is added in April, May, and June.  The radio beacon set-up is moved from the first assistant keeper dwelling to this new location.  Battelle Institute sets up a testing site at Ponce Inlet. A halyard is removed from the tower's main balcony and a dumb compass is installed on the rail.  A teletype is installed, probably in the radio room. 

The Volusia Bar Lighthouse fog signal is deactivated.

 

1944

A septic tank system installed, and an anemometer is installed on the tower's main balcony railing.

 

1945

Florida Power and Light provides commercial electric service in the area and the light station goes “on the grid.”

 

1945-1949

Charner Smith is officer-in-charge of the light station.  His daughter Suzanne is the last child born to a resident keeper family at the Ponce Inlet Station.

 

1946

The 1934 buoy house is discontinued and moved by raft to Edward Meyer’s nearby fish camp. The lighthouse dock is deteriorating and is eventually nearly washed away. The Tampa Bay Hurricane crosses the state.  On January 1, oversight of the Coast Guard is returned to the Treasury Department. Lighted airways as navigational aids have mostly been replaced by radio navigation but a few of these routes are still used today.

 

1947

Coronado Beach is annexed into New Smyrna and the town becomes New Smyrna Beach.  NASCAR is formed.  Car races are now held on an oval track near the lighthouse.  Half the track is on the paved highway and the other half is on the sand.  A shorter track is also available for motorcycle racing.

 

1950-1952

Coast Guardsman Harry Jones is the OIC.  His family and also his assistant, Herbert F. Smith, live on the station.  After 1953, the Coast Guard families are moved to the south side of the inlet and there were no more resident keepers.  Most of the coastal watch towers erected during WW II are removed from Florida beaches. One still remains north of Daytona in Ormond Beach.

 

1951  

Battelle Institute sets up tests on the light station grounds.    A small water tower is erected for use in these tests. The tests are discontinued in 1957.

 

1952

The light station water tower with the cypress wood tank is taken down. The radio beacon is discontinued. Interest in acquiring land at the lighthouse begins to grow along with the possibility of some of the land being declared excess to the government's needs.

 

1952

Late in the year, the lighthouse beacon is completely automated with a time clock and a lamp changer.  The curtains are no longer used in the lantern room.

 

1953

The beacon is by now fully automated. Live-in keepers are no longer needed and the light station is abandoned except for weekly visits from the Coast Guard.  The property deteriorates through vandalism and neglect.

 

1954

Battelle Institute continues their tests at the lighthouse. In 1954-55, their desalinization experiments begin.  Battelle uses the principal keeper building as an office for a time.

 

1956-1957

Volusia County purchases part of the light station reservation, parcels A and B, drawing SK 2123, from the federal government.  In 1957, the county is granted a permit to use the 100 foot right of way to the Halifax River. This right of way is part of the original deed with Bartola Pacetti.

 

1959

Daytona International Speedway opens.  The last races on the beach are held in 1957-58.

 

1963

The Town of Ponce Inlet is incorporated and obtains a Coast Guard lease to use the second assistant keeper's house as a town hall.  Shortly before this, the town had used the principal keeper dwelling for a meeting on October 2.

 

1964

All Battelle Institute test sites and other equipment are removed from the light station, including the company's small water tower. 

 

1965

The Coast Guard grants a five year revocable lease to the town for use of the land and buildings of the light station, with the exception of the tower.

 

1966

Ponce Inlet Ladies' Auxiliary is founded and begins to clean up the abandoned light station.  The Coast Guard declines to help with funding and warns the members that no significant changes to the buildings and grounds are allowed.  The town has already removed a wall in the second assistant keeper dwelling and installed paneling on some of the kitchen walls.

 

1967

The Coast Guard installs a new lamp changer apparatus with two 1000-watt bulbs into the 3rd order lens at the top of the tower.

 

1968

The Coast Guard places a navigation light on a 50-foot tower on the south side of the inlet. The Coast Guard declines to renew the town's 1965 lease to the buildings and grounds.  The town then requests a lease for the second assistant keeper dwelling.

 

1969

In November, the Coast Guard publishes a notice that the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse will be extinguished on 1-1-70 and replaced by the navigational beacon at the Coast Guard station.

 

1968-1972

The Army Corps of Engineers installs two jetties, one on the north side and one on the south side of Ponce Inlet.  Repairs due to erosion and bad weather were made in 1978 (north), 1981 (north), and 1982-1983 (north). In 2010, plans are discussed to add to the south jetty.

 

1970

The beacon at Ponce Inlet is extinguished and the Coast Guard now lights the inlet from their station on the south shore. The 3rd order lens is removed from the Ponce Inlet tower to protect it from vandals and is sent to the Coast Guard Museum for display.  The oil house is partially burned by vandals.

 

1971

The town is granted a one year revocable lease to the lighthouse reservation property, excluding the tower.

 

1970-72

Concerned town residents form the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association and persuade the Town of Ponce Inlet to take ownership of the light station.  Some photos show simple railings added to exterior stairs of the dwellings before 1972, probably during the years while the town is leasing the buildings.

 

1972

The Coast Guard declares the light station to be surplus property and deeds it to the Town of Ponce Inlet.  The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and eventually becomes a National Historic Landmark. Permission is given to illuminate the tower, not as a navigational aid but with an old street lamp for visual effect.  The  metal keepers' garage, located to the northwest of the tower, is demolished.

 

1973

The light station opens to the public.  Ayres Davies, mayor of Ponce Inlet and a founding member of the Lighthouse Preservation Association, has laid out a plan whereby the second assistant building will be used for offices, a "publicity" room, and a public ladies' restroom.  The principal keeper dwelling should contain an apartment for a caretaker, and sea exhibits would be placed in the south rooms.  The first assistant building should be decorated as a family home, and the bathroom addition would become the public men's restroom.  The assistant keeper dwellings have their roofs replaced with cedar shingles as a result of damage done by vandals who have broken off tower balcony railing parts and thrown them down like spears into the assistant keeper dwellings. A chain link fence is installed around the property to protect it from further vandalism.  The light station is connected to city water.  The museum is granted tax exempt status, which is confirmed again in 1992.

 

1973

On January 3, the original 1933 3rd order lens is returned to Ponce Inlet from the Coast Guard Academy Museum in New London, Connecticut.  It is reassembled and put on display. Members of the Preservation Association begin to revive the lost arts of Fresnel lens restoration and repair. Reproduction doors are made for the tower entrance.

 

1974 -1982

CETA workers dismantle an old underground block building on the southeast side of the property that had once belonged to Battelle's research project.  CETA workers also carry out some work inside the keeper dwellings including painting the walls with texture paint. A Carter administration project, CETA is the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act.

 

1975

Local volunteers work to restore the keepers' dwellings.

 

1976

The light station's flag pole is relocated from the west side of the station to the center of the grounds.  Six donated exterior floodlights are installed around the tower, and the site is now open daily.

 

1977

An 8 x 12' wooden "gate house" is constructed to serve as a ticket office. It is a frame building, constructed in a style similar to the brick outbuildings. The first assistant keeper dwelling is decorated in the style of 1900 and named for Gladys Meyer Davis, who was born there while her father was a keeper.

 

1978

Restoration of metal work at top of tower is begun.  This project continues for several years. Between this time and 1980, the tower window vents are installed.   A gift shop is located in the radio room side of the generator building. 

 

1979

The Preservation Association's board of trustees decides to feed the numerous homeless cats on the property. Ayres Davies builds a porch on the east side entrance to the generator building which is serving as the gift shop. He uses materials from Battelle Institute. This porch is removed after the store moves to a new location in 1980.

 

1979-1980

A new gift shop building is constructed at the front gate by Ed Bopp.    The old ticket office is grafted to the west end of this structure.  (The building now serves as the education building since 2005.)

 

Early 1980s

Windows are cut into the front doors of the assistant keeper dwellings.

 

1982

The Coast Guard officially reactivates the light station beacon when a new condominium building blocks their tower light.  The new lamp is a modern aero/marine beacon (FA-250) with a range of about 20 nautical miles. A partial restoration of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse tower is done at this time, including the installation of a new main balcony.

 

1982-83

A cafe building is constructed by Fred Tone, who has a contract to provide snacks to lighthouse visitors.  This building is moved to the town's park in 1995 and is eventually replaced by a large picnic gazebo.

 

1985

Ann Caneer, who had volunteered at the lighthouse since 1972, is hired as operational manager and eventually becomes the museum's first executive director.  She retires in January 2008.  During 1985, the town and the Preservation Association come to a management agreement.  A school tour program begins.

 

1986

The management agreement between the Preservation Association and the town is approved by the Department of the Interior.  The original Program of Utilization is revised by the Preservation Association and approved by the Department of the Interior.

 

1987

In November, the F.D. Russell river tug is donated to the museum and moved to its first location at PILH near the south fence.  A consultant from the American Association of Museums visits as part of an official self-study.  A centennial celebration is held.  A safety cage is added to the tower's main balcony. In the mid 1980s, the Coast Guard installs an FA 250 AC rotating beacon in the tower.

 

1988

A viewing deck is built for the F.D. Russell

 

1989

The oil house is restored using original bricks from the oil house walkway. The Woodshed Theater, located in the woodshed of the second assistant keeper, opens in the fall and features a film on the site's history. New copper gutters and downspouts are installed on the dwellings.  All the chimneys except for those on the principal keeper dwelling are capped and the cupola stairs of this building are restored.  Pigeon roosts and tree swallow waste are removed from chimneys.  A devastating freeze on December 25th kills much of the plant life in the area.

 

1992

A new entrance/gift shop building is added to the light station and is based on 1884 plans for a multi-family keepers' dwelling that had once been an intended design for the station.  Pull-up stairs for attic entry are added to the principal keeper and assistant dwellings. The concrete apron around the tower is replaced.

 

1993

The Cape Canaveral 1st order rotating Fresnel lens is sent here by the Coast Guard for restoration and display.  Bathrooms are removed from the porches of the first and second assistant's dwellings, and the floors are replaced. The bathroom of the principal keeper dwelling is retained as it is being used to store parts of the Canaveral lens. Handicap ramps are installed on the dwellings.  The police ask to use old gift shop as a sub-station and the board of trustees agrees.  The board also agrees to a re-admission policy for visitors who are unable to climb the tower as the result of bad weather. The generator room becomes a temporary conservation lab for artifacts retrieved from the Commodore.  Restorations of the front and side porches of the principal keeper dwelling are completed.   Etched glass windows are installed on the breezeway of the principal keeper dwelling. The board agrees to purchase fire suppression equipment and a security system in order to display the restored Canaveral lens.

 

1994-1995   

The Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building is constructed to house the Cape Canaveral lens and other lenses. The Cape Canaveral lens is placed on exhibit in 1995.

 

1995

Historic Boat Yard opens and F.D. Russell is moved to this location.  The café/concession building is moved to the town park by the Fire Department.  Admission to the light station is now $4 for adults and $1 for children under 12.  An annual membership is $10.

 

1996

Lightning hits the tower and destroys the beacon.  A Vega-VRB-25 replaces the FA 250.  This marine beacon has a 1000 watt bulb and rotates, with a flash every 10 seconds.  The founding meeting of the Florida Lighthouse Association is held in Miami.  Ann Caneer attends and is elected as the first president.  A locking trap door is installed at the entrance to the tower's lantern room.   An intercom for emergency use is installed in the watch room. Railings are installed on the tower's granite entrance steps. New sewer lines are installed.  The Fire Department begins training their staff to perform tower rescues.  The lighthouse gets its first computer.

 

1997

The station's original 1st order lens is returned by the Coast Guard for restoration by the museum’s lens restoration team.  Also in this year, the museum staff and Rusty Crawford of Crawford Productions complete the film Stephen Crane and the Commodore.  The front parking lot, wall, fence, and gate are constructed.  The Preservation Association's board discusses the need for a museum educator.

 

1998

The light station becomes a National Historic Landmark.  Improved railings are added to the steps on each building. A new city sewer line is installed. Security and fire systems are now complete in all buildings. A painted transom is added over tower front entrance doors.

 

1999

The courts grant ownership of the Commodore wreck site to the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association and to Don Serbousek, the diver who originally located and identified the wreck.  The historic laundry shed is recreated at the rear of the first assistant's dwelling.

 

2000   

New shake shingle roofs are added to the second assistant dwelling and the woodshed theater.  Dr A. J. Maxwell plans to build a replica of the lighthouse at his nearby restaurant.

 

2000-2001

The lighthouse tower is completely restored.  The gift shop/entrance building is named for Ann Caneer in 2001.

 

Spring 2000

The administration building is completed. The museum's mission statement is approved.  The quarterly newsletter name changes to "The Light Station." The Board of Trustees approves the same admission-free policy for public, private, and  home schools in and outside Volusia County. Restoration of the station's historic 1st order lens begins.

 

2002

The Generator Building is stabilized when a nearby town retention pond threatens to undermine it.  A walking tour brochure for museum visitors is developed, and the theater in the woods is constructed.

 

2003

Restoration of the light station's original fixed 1st order lens is complete and the lens is placed on display in the museum.  The 1933 3rd order Fresnel lens also undergoes restoration.

 

2004

On April 30th, the 3rd order rotating Fresnel lens is re-lit for the first time since 1970.  The light station becomes a private aid to navigation with the permission of the Coast Guard, and museum staff is now responsible for maintenance of the lighthouse beacon.

 

2005

In May a new restroom, tour entrance and concession facility is completed.  In October, the education workshop building is opened. A Hughey and Phillips FAA code beacon is donated to the collection.

 

2005-07

New track lighting is added to all exhibit areas.

 

2006

In September, court papers are filed relinquishing the museum’s co-ownership of the Commodore wreck site and artifacts.  Don Serbousek is now the sole owner of the site and all artifacts on the site. 

 

2006

In the fall, the museum board agrees to deaccession the F.D. Russell.  Documentation of the boat is sent to the state historic preservation office in Tallahassee.  Restoration of the exterior masonry at the light station begins. The first assistant cistern is entered, assessed, and cleaned.

 

2007

Don Serbousek removes his collection of Commodore artifacts from the museum.  Restoration of the interior plaster of the keepers' dwellings begins.  The World War II radio beacon room is re-created.  The river tug F.D. Russell is removed from exhibit September. A rare  c. 1850 Chance Brothers 3rd order middle lens is added to the collection and completely restored. The lens purchase includes the pedestal, IOV lamp, and fuel tanks. The lens was used in Australia, Queensland, Hannibal Island.  Restoration is completed in 2008. This is one of only two such lenses in the US. 

 

2008

The restoration of the kitchen/living room area of the second assistant keeper's dwelling is completed.  Restoration of the Chance Brothers 3rd order middle lens (purchased by the museum in 2007) is completed. A BBT 4th order clamshell lens, once used at North Vietnam's Halong Bay, is purchased and installed in the Lens Exhibit Building.  The laundry shed of the first assistant dwelling is recreated. In January, Ed Gunn is appointed the museum's executive director and Ann Caneer becomes Director Emerita. Restoration of front porch piers of the first assistant dwelling is conducted. Two 4th order AGA Swedish drum lenses are purchased from Peru.

 

2008-2009  

The pump house undergoes restoration, and new drainage ditches are dug around its perimeter.

 

2009

The exterior east wall of first assistant dwelling is repointed. Two AGA portable marine or aviation landing field lights are purchased.

 

2010

The exterior of the porch addition to the principal keeper dwelling undergoes restoration and repair. Don Serbousek, the diver who helped find and identify the Commodore wreck site, dies. 

 

2010-2011

Tower recoating and metalwork restorations are completed.

 

2011

The recreated laundry shed of the first assistant keeper is removed from the dwelling when it is determined to not be constructed to modern building codes.  Exterior doors of the second assistant dwelling are restored. The first assistant keeper's windows are restored as well as the living room fireplace and kitchen.  Fiber optic cables are connected to all buildings.

 

2012

Electrical upgrades are made to all historic buildings and to the education building.  The pantries of the principal keeper dwelling and all porch pillars are restored. A Barbier, Benard et Turenne 4th order port light used in Madagascar is purchased.  An online newsletter called "E-luminations" is begun.  Ann Caneer, a founding member of the Preservation Association and the museum's first executive director, dies on April 25. She is buried in the Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama. Restoration of the first assistant keeper dwelling continues into the large bedroom.  A BBT France 4th order landing field light c. 1920 is acquired. The quarterly journal of the museum is renamed "Illuminations."  The Historic Boat Yard exhibit is now dedicated solely to the display of Cuban refugee rafts.

 

2013

The old 20 x 20 concession building in the town park is demolished to make way for a new gazebo. The Cuban Rafts exhibit is upgraded with a new walkway, and a new refugee raft ("Animal 2013") is added to the exhibit. New perimeter lighting is added to the historic grounds.  New tower exterior lights are installed.  The pump house is restored to its original appearance with a solid door and a window on the south side.  Pumps are now located outside the building on the south side.  Two important 4th order Chance lenses are acquired from Great Britain– Spit Bank (4th order fixed Chance plus pedestal and burner) and Granton Harbor (4th order fixed Chance 1869 with pedestal). A 5th order fixed Chance Brothers harbor light from Australia is also added to the collection.  A six-year project by museum staff to change all the exhibits is completed.  The Lighthouse Service and the Great War is published. A revision of the lighthouse DVD A Heritage Remembered is produced. The first assistant keeper's large bedroom undergoes restoration.

 

2014

The small bedroom and hallway of the first assistant keeper dwelling are restored.  Federal Masonry Restoration performs major restoration of the principal keeper dwelling exterior, the cistern of the first assistant keeper, and all the historic chimneys.  A BBT modified clamshell lens with blue shade, rotational mechanism, IOV lamp, and fuel tanks is purchased.  This lens was used in Greece. The tower exterior is re-coated.  A Beacon for Mosquito is published.

 

2015

Federal Masonry restores and repairs the Oil Storage Building plus the tower entrance and granite steps and lower granite ring. The first assistant keeper's cistern is recoated. A BBT 6th order clamshell and a 6th order Barbier et Fenestre beehive lens (1882), both used in France, are purchased. Reproduction pedestals, lamps, and a rotational mechanism for the clamshell are ordered.  Woodshed Theater receives interior restoration work and a new zone climate system. A pontoon style Cuban refugee raft is acquired.  The St. Marks Lighthouse lens is restored for the US Fish and Wildlife Service by museum staff.

 

2016

Federal Masonry completes the exterior and interior restorations of the three outbuildings, plus spot repairs to the principal keeper dwelling.  PILH staff restores the interior of the generator building and a two-zone climate system is added to the building. Two 4th order drum lenses once used in the Panama Canal are purchased.  In October, the pump house is destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.  Only the original slab floor remains. Another Cuban raft is added to the collection. A new door for the tower main balcony is fabricated and the original door bolts are used in the restoration.

 

2017

The pump house is reconstructed according to the historic design and work is completed in early February. The educational text STEAM Through Lighthouse Illumination is completed, as is the text of THE PONCE INLET LIGHTHOUSE: An Illustrated History.

 

 2018

Joists are repaired on the front porch of Bldg 4.  Experiments with Century Brand cement for repointing masonry are assessed in April. Artifact storage is reorganized. The principal keeper's woodshed floor and floor joists are restored, and an archaeological investigation is carried out in the foundation space. A second edition of A Beacon for Mosquito is produced.

 

2019

Restoration of the tower ironwork, including the lantern room tie-downs, is completed.  The oil house is cleaned, the roof repaired of storm damage, and the tanks and floor drain are conserved.  The grate of the floor drain is removed to storage and replaced with a modern grate.  THE PONCE INLET LIGHTHOUSE: an Illustrated History is published.  The living room of the principal keeper's dwelling is restored.  Roofs are replaced on the Lens Exhibit Building and the Administration Building.

 


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