There is a $23 milllion dollar need for Florida’s lighthouse properties. If you take the Florida lighthouse study of 2002, and add 5% for inflation and hurricanes each year, you come up with a staggering need based on bifurcated missions and overlays of ownership. Lighthouse expert and preservation architect Ken Smith of Jacksonville is the expert who helped set these very modest numbers: Here are some samples:
$3.5 million to stabilize Alligator Reef. This lighthouse was named after the USS Alligator, a schooner built to help fight slavery, that wrecked in the keys.
American Shoal Lighthouse – $1,186,250.00 Another keys lighthouse in real danger of being lost forever.
Boca Grand Rear Range Light – $362,500
Dry Torgutas at Loggerhead key $543,750.
Egmont Key, the top is off this one and it’s rusting. The DOD has paperwork needed for transfer to an owner who can help perhaps? It’s needs by architect’s estimate are around $1,458,875.00
These are just a few of the needs out there. Governor Crist gets it. He’s put $5 million to begin this work in a request. The money is supposed to come recreational lands funds.
The House put money in too at this writing, but has the money coming from a different place. They put the money in competition with Special Cateogories, but we specifically were told by the Governor’s staffers that this was not the target funding source.

Conference will be the compromise point. There must be some creative ways to fund lighthouse projects. The FLA has suggested a liscence plate. Federal Transportation dollars can be used. These are handed out through State to County processes but that budget is also being cut. Lighthouses are very good for tourism and some sit on park lands, so there may be money there. The important thing is to not wait another year, before we loose more properties. Florida once had 62 lighthouse towers. Today only 29 still stand.
I strongly adovate funding both Special Category grants and some lighthouse funding. Some lighthouses do get funded through special categories, but not all can apply. And we are loosing them. Special Categories also funds archaeology, historic churches, schools and other cultural projects.
We do need to fund this LH project too, in a way that doesn’t hurt other important projects such as historic buildings and churches. We need to make good choices and be smart. So…we talk to our elected officials and we ask them to act in our best interest.
What is in our best interest? Well historic preservation is, because for every $1 dollar you put into historic preservation, the State’s economic engine gets $10. It generates revenue through heritage tourism, through a function of labor density during job creation, because historic preservation jobs are more likely to be local companies and contractors, and by making good spaces for small companies to start up.
Becase we care about the health of Florida. We are honest. Some lighthouses have improved since 2002. Here are some numbers on our list that went down.
Cape Canaveral has completed their restoration. Anclote Key is a bright spot becase it has too. It will need to be painted soon. Jupiter Inlet and Key West and Ponce Inlet are all well managed and beautifully run, but there is still work to do on any lighthouse at any time. Here is St. Augustine we need to rebuild portions of our lantern due to rust. You see preserrvation is NEVER completed.
Florida’s maritime history is being lost forever it we don’t step up to save it. Sometimes a light was the first view an immigrant had of America. It is not an accident that the Statue of Liberty is a lighthouse. .
If you want to see some dramatic evidence of a need take a look at the photo gally from Cape St. George on the panhandel. The lighthouse site originally was in the Cape St. George Preserve. The lighthouse collapsed into the sea in 2005. A local group is working to save it and making great progress.
Lighthouse funds are for all of Florida.