Saving Our Stories: Maritime Heritage Park
Stories of World War II
Like many coastal towns, St. Augustine witnessed increased military activity during World War II. German U-boats were torpedoing cargo ships off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, some close enough for the blazing fires to illuminate the beaches.
Along the shoreline, the threat of enemy action prompted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to begin patrols. Downtown, the Ponce de Leon Hotel was transformed into a Coast Guard Training Center, graduating thousands of recruits before the war’s end.
On Anastasia Island, the USCG used the St. Augustine Lighthouse as a lookout tower. Six coast guardsmen took turns patrolling the tower’s observation deck looking for any evidence of enemy activity. Lighthouse keepers also observed blackout conditions by using a much weaker lightbulb.
The stories of St. Augustine’s role in this pivotal part of national history will be captured through exhibitions and the historical restoration of our World War II-era Barracks and Maintenance Garage.
Park Points of Interest
WWII-era Barracks & Garage
How can you get involved?
Make a donation
Whether you would like to honor someone who has served or simply show your support for this important chapter in history, your donation will help us bring to life the stories of World War II life in St. Augustine. One-time contributions, monthly donations, naming opportunities, and more are available. Donate now online or contact us at (904) 829-0745 to pledge your support!
Share your stories
If you or someone you know has a story or artifact that connects St. Augustine to the U.S. Coast Guard or World War II, we would love to hear it! You can share your stories with our Museum via email to Paul Zielinski, Director of Interpretation, or by calling (904) 829-0745.
Restoration of the World War II-era buildings is sponsored by the State of Florida, Department of Economic Opportunity. Additionally, restoration of the U.S. Coast Guard Barracks is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources and the State of Florida.