Cape Florida Lighthouse . Keeper's House . Key Biscayne . Florida . Watercolor . 12" x 16"
... the Cape Florida lighthouse is another light with a violent history. The original 65-foot tall, tapered, cylindrical, brick tower and brick keeper's house were completed in 1825. The interior stairs of the tower was burned from the ground floor door, up into the lantern room in 1836, during a raid by angry, indigenous Seminole. Thinking that they had killed all of the keeper personnel, they turned their attention to destroying the keeper's dwelling. Nonetheless, assistant keeper John Thompson did survive, although he was shot and stranded on the tower balcony. As the Second Seminole War raged on, the tower was not rebuilt until 1847 and then in 1855; at the direction of U.S. Army engineer George Meade, tower height was increased to 95 feet. However, the light was out during the Civil War and not re-lit until 1866. By the 1920's, 90 feet of shoreline had eroded to within 10 feet of the tower base and the keeper's house had been decimated by hurricanes and storms. A jetty and protective seawall has since been erected. In 1966-67, the State of Florida purchased the property and surrounding area to establish the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. In 1978, the keepers dwelling, outhouse, cookhouse, and cistern were replicated and/ or rebuilt. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew left the tower damaged once again... requiring extensive repairs in 1996. The light entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The Cape Florida light tower is open for climbing and the reconstructed keeper's house is a museum. It all looks good during a 2017 road trip... and it was hot.