The Haunting Of St. Augustine Lighthouse
The St. Augustine lighthouse has the distinction of being the first of its kind established in Florida by the new territorial American Government. John Adams and his lot had just downright bought Florida out from Spanish grasp and the general idea was to commence a reconstruction and remodeling project that would, in essence, make the locals warm up to their new overlords.
The official lighthouse was constructed over an earlier watchtower built and operated by the Spaniards.
“The waters around Florida were a maze commercial and sea fairing trade routes. This not only attracted investors but a lot of pirates and privateers. When Sir Francis Drake attacked St. Augustine one of the first things the Spanish did after he sacked the colony was implement various beacons and watchtowers along the coast in order to prevent something like that ever happening again.”
One of these watchtowers was carved into the place the lighthouse now calls home. They were mostly made of coquina taken from a nearby quarry on the island.
A Timeline of the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
- In 1589. Italian mapmaker, Giovanni Battista Boazio, published a map of the many MANY raids of Sir France Drake in the Florida coast. This map was the first document that actually mentioned and showed a wooden watchtower at the end of Anastasia Island. The watchtower was not a lighthouse; its objective was to keep an eye on the straits not on preventing ships from crashing into the sholes.
- Between the years 1731-1762, the high seas off the Florida coast saw all manner of swashbuckling adventures. The place became a reality version of that Johnny Depp film with the drunken pirate. Smuggling, decapitation, murders, shipwrecks, illegal boardings… all that plus much more took right in the purview of this by the then decrepit watchtower.
- Around 1740, the watchtower became an actual waypoint – a beacon if you will – for runaway slaves. The Spaniards, not out of a sense of nobility, but just to inflame and incense their British counterparts, created Fort Mose, just a couple of kilometers from the watchtower. The place was a sanctuary for free blacks and slaves fleeing British occupation.
- After the Seven Year’s War, the British were given St.Augustine. The lighthouse was part of the package. They started remodeling the watchtower and slowly converting into a lighthouse to direct ship traffic.
- During the 1760s, the HMS Industry sank off the shallows of St. Augustine in a sand bar. A couple of sailors lost their lives in the tragedy. The ship was scuttled and some of its supplies were used not only to strengthen the different forts in the area but to shore up the lighthouse. In other words, the structure was partly fortified with the remains of a sunken ship.
- In 1864, during the American Civil War, the lighthouse became a point of contention between Confederate sympathizers and The Union. The crafty Confederates stole the lenses and clockwork mechanism. This small action had profound ramifications on from the war; it blocked the trading route and send shockwaves through Lincoln’s plans for victories. A gunboat took over St. Augustine peacefully and after some inventive interrogation techniques, the whereabouts of these precious commodities were unearthed.
- Operation Drumbeat. Nazis… In 1942, a German U-Boat, under the command of Reinhard Hardegen, used the St. Augustine lighthouse of a waypoint for a campaign of terror against oil tankers shipping out of Florida. The boat would rise its periscope and triangulate trading routes for enemy vessels based on the lighthouse’s presence and torch.
- The current lighthouse is over 145 years old. It is a vital part of an aid-to-navigation system, designed to support military defense, travel, trade, boat building, pleasure boating, and local law enforcement.
The Ghosts Of St. Augustine Lighthouse.
There’s a reason why famed paranormal investigator and lead man of Ghost Hunters to called the lighthouse “the Mona Lisa of paranormal sites.”
In 1871, the Americans came to a realization, the lighthouse was sinking. They did extensive remodelings and reconstructed the old dame. A man named Hezekiah H. Pittee was assigned the task and he oversaw most of the construction efforts.
“Hezekiah H. Pittee had really restless children. I mean by today’s standards they would no doubt be labeled as hyperactive. Anyway, Pittee constantly brought his kids to work and let them play around the construction site. BIG MISTAKE.”
On July 10, 1873, the kids were playing with on cart. Jumping and riding around in it.
“The cart toppled, with the kids inside and crashed into the nearby coast. Back then the surf reached the lighthouse. the two eldest Pittee children, Eliza and Mary, drowned. There was a third African American kid but some newspaper reports fail to mention her.”
According to operators and the staff of the place, the playful ghost of these children still inhabits the lighthouse. Workers will often discover previously bolted doors form the night before hanging wide open the next day. They often tell tales of the racket of children’s laughter in the middle of the night. Music boxes sold in the gift shop will mysteriously pop open, and start playing all by themselves. Tour guides report increased incidences of being touched or seized by shades while showing visitants around.
Meanwhile, visitors to the lighthouse describe catching flashes of a young girl dressed in old era clothing gazing out from the lighthouse door or standing by the upstairs window. The ghost of this young lady is rather pleasant and rarely interacts with visitors. The same can’t be said of other less wholesome entities.
There’s a terrifying specter that haunts the lighthouse named “The Man In Blue.”
“When he appears he makes life a living hell for the workers. One lighthouse keeper refused to go back to work because the man in blue harassed him for a whole night, chasing him up and down the 219 stairs of the lighthouse. Eventually, the lighthouse duty had to be handed over to the coast guard because of this wraith.”
Many think that the man in blue is the wandering spirit of lighthouse keeper Joseph Andreu. Andreu plummeted to his death while painting the original tower in 1859.
Others, meanwhile maintain the poltergeist is that of another lighthouse keeper. The man heartbroken by his solitude allegedly hanged himself in the tower and was only discovered the next night when the lighthouse failed to illuminate the coast. Visitors and staff describe the overwhelming smell of cigar smoke on the landing of the tower, despite the fact that smoking is prohibited on the grounds. At night, the current keeper constantly says he can hear boots coming up the stairs, but when he turns around there’s no one there.
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A Look Back: Haunted History at St. Augustine Lighthouse
Why did ghost hunters from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.) hear a disembodied female voice asking for help in the St. Augustine Lighthouse? What or who made those eerie footsteps? What's the explanation for visions of shadowy figures on the stairs?
Questioning, curious people all over the world have made a serious hobby out of investigating how real historic tales turn into lingering claims of unexplained phenomena, especially at the oldest structures like the St. Augustine Lighthouse, circa 1874.
The insatiable search for paranormal activities in historic places has become a popular part of the local tourism industry. Barbara Golden, communications manager for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau, said there are currently eight ghost tour companies in the city that are partners with the VBC.
"Though most visitors take the night-time tours as an added activity, many people do come here specifically because of the reputation and availability of these tours," Golden said.
Ghost tours and "haunted happenings" are a regular part of the VBC public relations pitches because they add another interesting way to promote history.
"Many of the tours are great little vignettes that feature actual people and historic figures with interesting stories," Golden said.
True ghost stories
One such interesting vignette is told at the Dark of the Moon tour offered since 2006 at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Glow sticks provide the only light as head tour guide Matt Hladik, 21, tells haunted historic tales.
The most popular is the true story of the tragedy that befell the children of Hezekiah H. Pittee, superintendent of lighthouse construction from 1871 to 74.
On July 10, 1873, "during construction of the tower, the foreman's children were playing on a supply cart that ran on the tracks to where modern Salt Run is now. When the cart hit the gate the children were trapped until a worker was able to lift it up. The two youngest children, Edward and Carrie Pittee survived. The two oldest, Eliza and Mary did drown," Hladik said.
The lesser-known part of this story is there was another child involved - a 10-year-old African-American girl. Hladik said her name wasn't recorded in the primary source used (a newspaper article interviewing Edward many years later), but through other sources they know she was there.
"This girl deserves to be mentioned just as much as the others and I'm happy that I'm in a position where I get to do so," he said.
The other oft-told tale was reported in the St. Augustine Examiner on Dec. 5, 1859. Light Keeper Joseph Andreu was painting the tower when the scaffolding failed and he fell about 60 feet.
"He died in the line of duty," the article reported.
Hladik, an English major at the University of North Florida, said the stories they tell are all historic in nature so they interest visitors who want to learn about the past as well as those who focus on frights.
Although not a ghost hunter himself, Hladik said he has seen many strange things at the lighthouse complex. He said he has glimpsed a shadowy figure in the tower, a hand coming through the tower door and furniture moving around by itself.
"I've had a few arm hairs plucked off me in the basement of the keeper's house. Rather recently I had my ankle grabbed. That was pretty amusing since it was in the middle of my tour so it looked like I just randomly tripped over air," he said.
The Dark of the Moon tour began on a seasonal basis, to capitalize on the Halloween industry, but was so popular it is now offered year round. The tours, with a maximum of 50 people, regularly sell out.
The more serious ghost hunters rent EMF meters or bring their own. The meter measures the electro magnetic field of an area. Ghost hunters believe spirits are made of energy that can be measured by such devices.
Lighthouse finds paranormal fame
The first visit from T.A.P.S. ghost hunters in 2005 helped put the lighthouse on the map for this industry. Several television episodes were devoted at least in part to the St. Augustine Lighthouse on the Syfy channel show, "Ghost Hunters." The main stars of the show, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, dubbed the lighthouse complex "the Mona Lisa of paranormal sites."
Dozens of YouTube videos online are also devoted to paranormal events here.
"When the ghost hunters came they ended up gathering the most evidence of anywhere else in town. This really got people's interest. Some really hard-core ghost hunters travel a long way just to come here and see what's going on," said Shannon O'Neil, spokeswoman for the lighthouse.
O'Neil said before the lighthouse offered the after-hours tour, other ghost tours were driving by telling its stories.
"Our whole mission as a nonprofit is to tell the stories of this place, so we knew we could do it better ourselves," O'Neil said.
In an effort not to be "too gimmicky" the tour guides are not dressed as re-enactors and nothing jumps out artificially to scare people. It's still a history lesson but the darkness and the power of suggestion combine to create a semi-eerie atmosphere.
"We have a responsibility as a museum and sharers of history to keep it authentic. That's really important to us. The stories we tell are all true. This site has been actively used for more than 300 years so there are a lot of stories to tell" O'Neil said.
Dark of the Moon is the most popular of the specialty tours. The lighthouse also offers the Behind the Scenes tour and the Lost Ships Archaeology Tour.
Still a working lighthouse
Whether in daylight or darkness, the favorite activity for most visitors is climbing the 219 spiraled steps to the top for a panoramic view. Once they are here, visitors invariably become interested in the history as a whole.
"They go into the Keeper's House and become intrigued with how the family lived and worked here and how tough the conditions were and it opens up the whole maritime story," O'Neil said.
It's a balance, though, between keeping people interested and keeping things historic. The admission fees help keep the interactive museum going and fund new exhibits. They also help keep the light going in this still working lighthouse. About 200,000 people visit every year.
The federal government built the structure from 1871 to 74 and it still has its original 1874 Fresnel lens, with 370 hand-made prisms. They recently received a grant from the state to repaint the black and white tower in the spring and do some work on the lens.
The tower is repainted every five to seven years anyway, but this time it coincides well with looking its best for the 450th commemoration, O'Neil said.
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Florida on a Tankful: St. Augustine Lighthouse’s Haunted History
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The St. Augustine Lighthouse has a haunted history, including the death of two young girls from 1873, whose giggling and footsteps are still heard. And sometimes, the Pittee girls have been seen.
1. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is an iconic structure first built in the late 1800s. It had plenty of history attached to it and some of it of the more haunted variety.
2. You can learn about the lighthouse’s haunted history during day tours or evening after-hours tours where you go into the basement of the lighthouse keeper’s home and hear haunting tales and you might even see something paranormal.
3. Be sure to call ahead to book one of these tours they are currently limiting capacity due to COVID-19. Masks are required while at the lighthouse.
4. The lighthouse is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
5. For more information check out the lighthouse’s website .
The Pittee Girls: they’re rumored to haunt the St Augustine lighthouse. The sisters were tragically killed in an accident on the grounds in the late 1800’s now people say they’ve heard the girls giggle and even seen them. I’m checking out the lore at this spot in the next Tankful pic.twitter.com/6zAibvU6yg — Caitlin Wilson (@CaitlinWilsonTV) September 22, 2020
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Meet the Ghosts of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
It's climbable, if you dare.
Valerie Fraser Luesse has been affiliated with Southern Living and its parent company since 1988. She has written some 30 Southern Journal essays for the magazine and extensively covered the unique cultural pockets of the South, including Acadian Louisiana, the Mississippi Delta, South Florida, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She released her fourth Southern novel with Revell in 2021.
For specters inclined to haunt, a lighthouse must be mighty tempting, perched at the edge of turbulent seas, a sailor's only guide on those proverbial dark and stormy nights. Some sort of watchtower has stood on St. Augustine's Anastasia Island since at least 1589. The current 165-foot tower was built between 1871 and 1874 with a 9-foot Fresnel lens. A great leap forward in technology, the Fresnel had hundreds of prisms and was lit by oil and later kerosene before electricity came along. The St. Augustine light is still operational—and climbable, if you dare. One lightkeeper, Joseph Andreu, was whitening the tower in 1859 when he fell to his death. They say (every ghost story begins or ends that way) that you can sometimes see a shadowy figure moving around the top of the tower. Or you might catch a whiff of cigar smoke from Peter Rasmusson, who came in 1901 and was the longest-running head keeper at St. Augustine, manning the light for 23 years.
Even if you meet with no visible ghostly encounter, you'll feel the spirit of the past in St. Augustine, the "Ancient City" founded in 1565. From Aviles—supposedly the oldest street in America—to the Atlantic-fronting beaches watched over by the St. Augustine light, this Spanish-flavored Florida city gives you the unmistakable sense that something happened here.
Should you have courage to spare after visiting the lighthouse, check out some of the city's other rumored haunts: the Old Jail, the historic fort Castillo de San Marcos (built in the late 1600s), and the Huguenot Cemetery. Or just walk the streets of the historic district after the tourists have called it a night and let the cobblestones speak to you. P.S. That beautiful Matanzas River flowing through the city? "Matanza" is Spanish for "killing," "slaughter," or "massacre." Just an FYI.
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Discover the Haunted, Embrace the Unknown at HauntedDiary.com
The Haunting at St. Augustine Lighthouse
- By: Timothy Rose
- Date: 12 January 2024
- Time to read: 5 min.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is illuminated by the moon’s shimmering light. This amplifies the air’s eerie stillness and the sense of mystery surrounding it. The lighthouse is on Anastasia Island in Florida and serves as a beacon for both ships at sea and people interested in ghost stories. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a haunted place renowned far beyond the state of Florida . Not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the scary tales of paranormal activity it harbors. It is known for its rich history and its spirit visitors.
The History of the Haunted Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is not only an enticing location for ghostly encounters, but it is also a tribute to exceptional engineering and historical value. This ancient lighthouse, which stands 165 feet tall, was built in the late nineteenth century. The spiral staircase that weaves its way up to the top is its distinguishing feature, giving both practical access and an element of architectural majesty.
The lighthouse was built on the grounds of a British shipwreck, which now serves as a breathtaking spectacle for visitors. The enthralling story of the lighthouse’s construction unfolds as one ascends the spiral staircase, providing a window into the past while simultaneously providing a stunning and panoramic perspective of the surrounding environment.
Over the years, it was maintained by several keepers, including the Andreu and Rasmussen families, both of whom experienced tragedies associated with the lighthouse.
Eliza and Mary Pittee, the superintendent of the lighthouse project, drowned while the tower was being built, causing Hezekiah Pittee to suffer a personal tragedy. The girls tragically perished while playing in a supply cart that tragically fell into the water.
Another event included Joseph Andreu, a lighthouse keeper, who died after falling to the ground while painting the tower. Maria, his devastated wife, assumed his responsibilities and became Florida ’s first recognized female lighthouse keeper.
These sad incidents have provided fodder for many ghost legends. Unsettling incidents have been recorded by guests and personnel, including youngsters laughing for no apparent reason, a ghostly woman climbing the lighthouse stairs, and a shadowy man strolling the pathways around the tower’s top. Some people think that they are the lingering ghosts of the Andreus and the Pittee sisters, who are shackled to the lighthouse they once called home.
Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena
Strange occurrences and paranormal activity have been recorded by visitors, including shadowy figures climbing the lighthouse steps, spectral children’s laughter, and the phantom aroma of cigar smoke, thought to have come from Keeper Peter Rasmussen, a notorious cigar smoker.
Late in the 19th and early in the 20th century, Rasmussen worked as a keeper. He was reputed to have had a deep fondness for the nautical beacon and was well renowned for his scrupulous maintenance of the lighthouse.
Local legend has it that Rasmussen adored cigars and frequently smoked them while on duty. Even after his employment ended, some guests and workers have mentioned smelling cigar smoke around the lighthouse, raising the possibility that Rasmussen’s ghost may still be present there.
Paranormal investigators like those from the popular show “Ghost Hunters” have documented unexplained phenomena, including strange orbs and chilling, disembodied voices. A recurring theme seems to be the spirit manifestations of the girls who drowned during the lighthouse construction. Many claim to have heard their ethereal laughter echoing in the night.
Popular Culture and Media Coverage
St. Augustine Lighthouse has captured public imagination through numerous media portrayals, most notably in episodes of paranormal investigation shows such as “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures”.
The media coverage has not only amplified its haunted reputation but also sparked increased interest and visitation. Several documentaries and news reports featuring chilling accounts and purported evidence of poltergeist phenomena have continued to add layers to its spooky reputation.
Investigation and Research Efforts
Multiple paranormal investigations have taken place at the lighthouse, notably by well-known organizations such as TAPS from “Ghost Hunters.” Recordings of spectral voices, video of shadowy figures, and readings of strange energy swings are among the evidence offered. Despite the abundance of proof, doubters continue to doubt the veracity of the allegations. Many people ascribe their experiences to chance, imagination, or the power of suggestion.
Visitor Experiences and Urban Legends
Visitors often share personal accounts of chilling encounters, from feeling an inexplicable chill to hearing spectral whispers or laughter. The urban legends surrounding the lighthouse mainly revolve around the spirits of the Pity girls and the tragic keepers. These stories not only fuel the tourism industry but also form an integral part of the local community’s identity and history.
Preservation and Tourism
The lighthouse is preserved by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, reflecting its historical and cultural importance. Dark of the Moon ghost tours offer visitors a chance to experience the haunting firsthand, and special events like the Lighthouse Night Fest attract paranormal enthusiasts. The combination of history and haunting has been an economic boon for the area, boosting local businesses and attracting a steady stream of tourists year-round.
St. Augustine Lighthouse’s continuing notoriety is a monument to both its historical significance and its spectral residents. Its distinct features make it a magnet for both history buffs and paranormal aficionados. The obsession with haunted houses, such as this lighthouse, testifies to our natural curiosity about the unknown, as well as the draw of a good, spine-chilling story. As long as the moon shines on the towering silhouette of St. Augustine Lighthouse and the sea whispers tales of bygone days, the mystery surrounding its ghostly occupants will entice the courageous and curious, keeping its spectral legends alive for future generations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about St. Augustine Lighthouse
Q1: Where is St. Augustine Lighthouse located?
St. Augustine Lighthouse is located on Anastasia Island, within the city of St. Augustine, Florida.
Q2: Is St. Augustine Lighthouse open for public visits?
Yes, the lighthouse is open to the public. It’s preserved by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, and offers guided tours.
Q3: Can I experience the hauntings at St. Augustine Lighthouse?
Yes, you can. The lighthouse offers the Dark of the Moon ghost tours, which are specially designed for visitors to experience the haunted tales associated with the lighthouse.
Q4: What is the most recurring paranormal activity at St. Augustine Lighthouse?
The most frequently reported paranormal activities include hearing ghostly laughter believed to be from the Pity girls who drowned during the lighthouse construction, shadowy apparitions moving up the lighthouse steps, and a phantom scent of cigar smoke.
Q5: Is the lighthouse still operational?
Yes, St. Augustine Lighthouse is still an active lighthouse and it is maintained by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.
Q6: Has St. Augustine Lighthouse appeared on television?
Yes, the lighthouse has appeared in several television shows and documentaries that deal with paranormal activities, such as “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.”
Q7: What are the major tragedies associated with St. Augustine Lighthouse?
There are two main tragedies associated with the lighthouse. These include the drowning of the superintendent’s daughters during its construction and the death of Keeper Joseph Andreu, who fell from the tower while painting it.
Q8: Are there any skeptics about the hauntings at St. Augustine Lighthouse?
Yes, despite numerous reports of paranormal activity and ghostly encounters, some skeptics question the authenticity of these experiences. They attribute them to natural causes, imagination, or the power of suggestion.
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The Dark of the Moon Tour at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is fun whether you believe in ghosts or not. The history of the first official light station of America is colorful enough to chill even the most stoic of visitors.
Throughout the currently active lighthouse's 139 years of functioning, many an incident has occurred. As with all historic places, the lighthouse has stories of many people, including the light keepers and their families. Whether or not their stories have ended up as ghost stories is up to you to decide on the Dark of the Moon Tour.
Visitors arrive first at the gift shop where every guest receives a glow stick necklace to light their way through the lighthouse grounds at night.
Electromagnetic field (EMF) meters are available for guests to rent. These detect energy fields, i.e. ghosts. Everyone is told to turn off their cell phones or put them on airplane mode as receiving any phone calls or texts on the tour can mess with the meter's signal. We are also encouraged to take pictures and videos throughout the entire tour.
(Important thing to remember about the Dark of the Moon Tour - It is the ONLY tour in St. Augustine that actually gets you into the lighthouse, grounds, and keeper's house at night.)
Do you think the St. Augustine Lighthouse stairs are haunted?
The guided tour begins at the light keeper's house, where we hear the stories of the previous lightkeepers and their families. The guide tells the story of Hezekiah Pittee, who oversaw the reconstruction of today's lighthouse in 1871. Supplies were brought to the construction site from the inlet via rail carts, and Mr. Pittee's children and one of the worker's children decided to play in them. Two of Mr. Pittee's children died in the accident as did the worker's child.
(As we're exiting this room the EMF meter in my hand lights up red, which is supposed to signify a spirit. When the light returns to green, it means there isn't any energy around you.)
Next, we make our way to the ground level of the keeper's house. The tour guide tells a spooky story about a tour he gave. He says that originally the keeper's house was split into two; one side for the keeper and his family and the other side for the assistant keeper and his family. There was once a staircase in the hallway, and where it used to stand, he found the dirty footprints of a child one night. He noted that there were no children on the tour that evening, and certainly none walking barefoot.
The group shuffles down a spiral staircase to get to the basement level of the keeper's house. The guide tells the story of keeper Pierre Rasmussen or Pete, who worked at the St. Augustine lighthouse for many years and whose wife died at the lighthouse. Even though he passed away elsewhere, the spirit of Pete is still felt on the lighthouse grounds, where they say he is looking for his wife.
The next part of the tour is free time. Each guest is allowed the chance to climb the 219 steps up to the top of the lighthouse to catch the view during this time as well. Most of the group, at least those who have not been on the tour before, do so. (Speaking with one couple, I learn they are on their tenth Dark of the Moon tour! They say they have experienced the paranormal on this tour and come back to experience it again). The climb is doable for most and there are several landings in between the trek up to stop and catch your breath.
The top of the lighthouse is spectacular! The entire town is laid out before you. The lighthouse beam stretches out 27 miles; illuminating every part of the nation's oldest city. Walking back down the lighthouse is spooky and certainly felt like an older, historic building, with possible spirits floating around.
With free time many of the visitors explore the keeper's house on their own and the surrounding grounds of the lighthouse. The guides explain some of their own experiences with ghost sightings, and say that now after working at the St. Augustine Lighthouse they all believe in ghosts!
The spiral staircase in the Lighthouse Museum.
The Dark of the Moon tour is very straightforward; the guides share the factual history of the lighthouse and their own paranormal experiences. They boast that this tour is all ghosts and no gimmicks, meaning that the hauntings are authentic. Just ask Ghost Hunters, the Sci-Fi Channel show that featured the lighthouse in two episodes! Admission to the tour is $25.00 for adults and $20.00 for kids younger than 12.
The tour can last up to two and a half hours, but fear not! They sell bottled water and snacks during the tour, and there is a restroom onsite. Catch sight or hear the sounds of a person long ago passed that still roams the lighthouse grounds searching for something or someone on this unique tour.
For more Information on ghost tours in St, Augustine, visit our Tour Services page.
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"The figure of a young girl in a long dress can be seen standing alone on the observation deck..."
One of the oldest cities in America, St. Augustine, Florida, is rich with history—and ghosts. The lighthouse that stands at the end of St. Augustine’s Anastasia Island was built in 1874, one in a long line of lighthouses that have served the city since Sir Francis Drake raided the village in 1586.
St. Augustine has become a national historic site, drawing thousands of visitors each year. But visitors don't just come for the history. St. Augustine’s years of service has left it with many ghosts, leading Jason Hawes of Ghost Hunters to dub the lighthouse “the Mona Lisa of paranormal sites.”
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After the original lighthouse established by the territorial American government eroded and fell into the sea, construction began in 1871 to build the lighthouse as it stands today. A man named Hezekiah H. Pittee oversaw the work. To entertain his restless children, he allowed them to play with the supply cart that ran back and forth between the lighthouse and the ocean. But on July 10, 1873, he would come to regret that decision.
- Photo Credit: Jessica Spengler / Flickr (CC)
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After a day of play, the two eldest Pittee children, Eliza and Mary, drowned when the cart toppled over into the water. Historians believe that a third child, a young African-American girl, was also killed in the accident, though her name goes unmentioned in newspaper reports.
According to lighthouse workers, the mischievous spirits of these children still haunt the lighthouse today. Workers will find locked doors standing wide open the next day, and the sound of children’s laughter can be heard in the stairwell. Music boxes sold in the gift shop inexplicably pop open, playing by themselves. Tour guides report multiple incidences of being touched or grabbed by ghosts while showing visitors around the lighthouse.
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Visitors to the lighthouse report catching glimpses of a young girl dressed in period clothing peering out from the lighthouse door or standing near an upstairs window. In 2009, a cell tower technician took a photo of his coworker with the lighthouse in the background—the figure of a young girl in a long dress with long hair can be seen standing alone on the top observation deck.
The young girl can be seen on the right of the observation deck.
The ghosts of the young girls are friendly and don't engage directly with visitors. Unfortunately, there are other, less pleasant presences making themselves known at the lighthouse, including a figure who has come to be known as “the man in blue.” This specter has terrified many who have worked and lived in the house, following them down all 219 stairs from the top of the tower. One lighthouse keeper was so unnerved that he refused to live in the lighthouse any longer. Eventually a coast guard who evidently didn't fear ghosts switched duties with him.
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Many believe that the man in blue is the restless spirit of lighthouse keeper Joseph Andreu, who fell to his death while painting the original tower in 1859. Others claim the spirit is that of another lighthouse keeper, who allegedly hanged himself in the tower. Visitors and staff report the overpowering smell of cigar smoke on the landing of the tower, despite the fact that smoking is expressly prohibited on the grounds. Could it be that Andreu had a penchant for cigars?
The St. Augustine Lighthouse hosts over 200,000 visitors per year, and is open to the public daily. For those especially interested in the paranormal activity, the lighthouse offers the Dark of the Moon Tour , a comprehensive tour of all the haunted sites related to the lighthouse. If you’d like an intimate audience with the man in blue, private tours are also available.
[Via St. Augustine , Explore Southern History , Doug Dillon . ]
Featured photo: PJ Nelson / Flickr ( CC ); Additional photos: Jessica Splenger / Flickr ( CC ), Angels & Ghosts
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Haunted History of St. Augustine
With more than 400 years of history under its belt,, st. augustine offers visitors a vacation’s worth of historical attractions to discover..
From the magnificent churches to the iconic buildings and military fortresses, the ancient city is a favorite among those with an affinity for history. As one may imagine, with a past that spans so many centuries, this charming beachside town has also had its share of turmoil, including war, sickness and death. So it’s not surprising that the Nation’s Oldest City is known as one of the most haunted places in the United States . For paranormal enthusiasts, St. Augustine is paradise of a darker kind. It’s here that many flock to discover if the accounts are true and to see for themselves if ghosts really do exist. It you’re wondering yourself, read on to learn more about St. Augustine’s haunted history.
The Late 1600s
Protecting the secrets.
Considered by many to be one of the most haunted spots in the city, Castillo de San Marcos was built between 1672 and 1695, making it the oldest masonry structure of its kind in the continental United States. Built to protect the city against foreign invasion, the fortress went through many battles and several name changes when the city transitioned from Spanish rule to British rule and then back under Spanish rule. It was under continuous military possession until it was deactivated in 1933.
During the tumultuous years of war and battles, it is said that one particular event caused several spirits to haunt the fort and it’s a twisted story of love and betrayal. There were several civilians living at the fort during that era in addition to the many soldiers and families. One family member in particular, Dolores Martis, the wife of Colonel Garcia Martis, is said to be among the spirits that still linger at the fort today. It seems that late at night, when everyone else was asleep, Dolores would sneak away to another area in the fort to meet her lover, Captain Manuel Abela. The two were successful at not getting caught for many months; until one day the Colonel caught a whiff of his wife’s perfume on the Captain. And while there’s no proof as to what really happened, both Dolores and Captain Abela disappeared shortly after and were never seen again, that is, until two skeletons were discovered in a hidden room of the fort’s dungeon.
Since then, many who visit Castillo de San Marcos report the smell or perfume and a chill in the air while in the dungeon. In extreme cases, some have even felt like someone was touching them and report becoming nauseous for no apparent reason. Other accounts also tell of sightings of a solider dressed in period clothing looking out to the vast sea. Perhaps it is the Colonel himself, still troubled over what happened.
A Second Chance at Life
In the city’s earliest days, it wasn’t uncommon for people to be thought dead when they actually weren’t. There were several instances where someone was nearly buried alive and it’s one of these times that had a significant effect on St. Augustine’s haunted history. The story is told that a young woman was nearly buried alive at Tolomato Cemetery, waking up only seconds before her coffin was covered up by dirt. Mourners had gathered to pay their respects and one of them heard a scratching sound coming from inside. Freed just in time, the woman went on to live another six years before passing away (again); only this time it’s said that she never crossed over to the other side. Since this fateful day, visitors to Tolomato Cemetery have reported seeing her spirit float through the trees and have heard a woman’s whisper on still nights. She’s not alone though, as other guests have seen the ghosts of children playing inside the cemetery and heard the sounds of their laughter.
Tragedy at a Beautiful Landmark
There are two very well known events that paranormal experts agree could have caused the beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse to become a site for paranormal activity. The first is the tragic death of two young sisters, Eliza and Mary, whose father, Hezekiah Pity, worked on the grounds of the lighthouse in the mid 1800s. Doing what kids naturally do, the two girls were having fun climbing in and out of a cart on the property when out of nowhere they started to roll uncontrollably down a hill towards the water. Although they screamed in terror, by the time the accident was discovered it was too late. The young girls had fallen into the water and drowned. The second event, an equally sad tragedy, occurred in 1859 when the lighthouse keeper, Joseph Andreu, fell to his death while painting the outside of the lighthouse.
As a result of these events, many people believe that the ghost encounters they’ve experienced are in fact the spirits of the girls and Mr. Andreu. Guests to this historic lighthouse have witnessed apparitions, disembodied voices and the appearance of several spirits. Most notably, a little girl in a blue dress, believed to be the ghost of the older Pity sister, has been spotted lingering among the grounds. There has been so much haunted activity at the lighthouse that is has been featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters .
The Life of a Criminal
Built in 1891 by Henry Flagler, the building now known as the Old Jail served as the city’s prison for nearly 60 years and was home to hardened criminals as well as the sheriff and his family. It’s a well-known fact that during the prison’s busiest years, its inmates were treated less than humanely, many were even physically tortured. It’s because of these grotesque events that many ghost hunters believe the spirits at the Old Jail belong to the many prisoners who lost their lives within its walls.
Eerie accounts by visitors include hearing painful moaning and chains rattling within the gallows where many prisoners were executed. The sight of the long-dead Sheriff Perry, who was known for his firm hand and harsh punishment practices, has spooked many a guest. Even reports of his heavy footsteps are enough to cause frightened guests to leave the premises as quickly as possible.
Forever a Hospital Patient
It was in 1821 when the city of St. Augustine had to replace several water lines under the Spanish Military Hospital . During construction, a startling discovery was made – thousands of human bones! It seems that the hospital was built on top of a Timucuan burial ground. Even before the remains were unearthed, workers and patients inside the hospital reported an evil spirit roaming the wards. Other reports include hearing the cries and screams of patients dying within the hospital’s rooms, even though no one was in sight. Some say they could hear conversations going on; although the voices seemed hushed or a distance away. And many guests say they could see an imprint on the bed in one of the rooms, as if someone was laying on it.
A Bitter End
Although not the oldest in the city, the Huguenot Cemetery dates back to 1821 when the city needed a burial ground for those who were not Catholic. Considered a hotbed of paranormal activity, the cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of St. Augustine citizens. Despite the many burials, there is one event in particular that ghost hunters believe caused an extremely disturbing haunting of Huguenot. John Stickney was originally laid to rest in this historic burial ground; but when his children grew up and moved away, they decided they wanted his body exhumed and moved closer to them. During the exhumation, it is told that the grave diggers, who needed a break, walked away from the gravesite for several minutes. During those moments, a couple of low-life thieves broke into Stickney’s coffin and stole his gold teeth right out of his mouth. Since this night, many guests to the cemetery have seen poor John roaming, floating and lingering around the cemetery, perhaps in search of his stolen property.
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St. augustine lighthouse: ghost stories abound at this haunted location.
- August 13, 2023
- St. Augustine
- The United States
There is something inherently creepy about lighthouses. They are often located in remote, desolate locations and are associated with death and disaster. St. Augustine Lighthouse is no exception. This historic landmark is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States. Ghost stories abound at St. Augustine Lighthouse. The most famous is the story of the Green Lady, who is said to be the ghost of a woman who died in a shipwreck. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing her apparition in the window of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. Other ghostly sightings include a man in a naval uniform and a little girl. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, there is no denying that St. Augustine Lighthouse is a fascinating place with a rich history. If you’re looking for a spooky place to visit, this is definitely it!
1. St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States. 2. There have been numerous reports of ghostly activity at the lighthouse. 3. One of the most well-known ghosts is that of a little girl named Peggy. 4. Other ghosts said to haunt the lighthouse include a woman in white, a man wearing a blue uniform, and a man with a beard. 5. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing strange lights, hearing strange noises, and feeling a sense of unease. 6. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a haunted place and should be visited at your own risk. 7. If you’re looking for a spine-tingling experience, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is the place for you!
- 1 1. St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States.
- 2 2. There have been numerous reports of ghostly activity at the lighthouse.
- 3 3. One of the most well-known ghosts is that of a little girl named Peggy.
- 4 4. Other ghosts said to haunt the lighthouse include a woman in white, a man wearing a blue uniform, and a man with a beard.
- 5 5. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing strange lights, hearing strange noises, and feeling a sense of unease.
- 6 6. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a haunted place and should be visited at your own risk.
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1. St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States.
St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States. The ghost stories associated with this lighthouse are many and varied, and there seems to be no end to the number of sightings and experiences that people have had here. The most common ghostly sighting at the lighthouse is that of a young boy, who is said to have drowned in the nearby waters. His ghost has been seen on many occasions, both inside and outside the lighthouse, and is said to be very friendly. Another frequent sighting is that of a woman named Julie Barnes, who was the lighthouse keepers wife back in the 1800s. Julie is said to have died from a tragic fall down the lighthouse stairs, and her ghost is said to haunt the staircase to this day. People have reported seeing her ghostly figure descending the stairs, or sometimes just seeing her face in the window of the stairwell. There have also been numerous reports of ghostly activity in the lighthouse itself, with people seeing strange lights and hearing strange noises coming from inside. One of the most frequent reports is that of a phantom ship that is said to sail past the lighthouse on stormy nights. This ship is said to be the same one that Julie Barnes fell from all those years ago, and her ghost is said to be on board. So, if you’re ever in the area and feeling brave, why not take a visit to the St. Augustine Lighthouse? You might just get a glimpse of one of its many ghosts for yourself.
2. There have been numerous reports of ghostly activity at the lighthouse.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is no stranger to ghost stories. For years, people have reported seeing strange lights, hearing phantom footsteps, and even encountering ghosts. Some say that the ghosts are of the lighthouse keepers who died in a tragic fire. Others believe that the spirits are of those who drowned in shipwrecks near the coast. Regardless of who the ghosts are, there is no denying that this place is haunted. There have been countless reports of ghostly activity at the lighthouse. One of the most commonly reported occurrences is the sound of phantom footsteps. People have reported hearing footsteps on the stairs, in the hallway, and even in the bedroom. In some cases, the footsteps have been so loud that they have awoken people from their sleep. Another common sighting is that of strange lights. People have reported seeing lights moving around in the windows, on the stairs, and even outside the lighthouse. In some cases, the lights have been so bright that they have lit up the entire room. Some of the most chilling reports are of people actually encountering ghosts. One woman reported seeing a ghostly figure in the stairwell. Another man reported seeing a ghostly figure on the balcony. And yet another woman reported seeing a ghostly figure in the bedroom. In each case, the figure vanished as soon as it was seen. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there is no denying that the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a place where strange things happen. If you’re brave enough to visit, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for any ghostly activity.
3. One of the most well-known ghosts is that of a little girl named Peggy.
One of the most well-known ghosts at the St. Augustine Lighthouse is that of a little girl named Peggy. According to legend, Peggy was a young girl who died in a tragic accident at the lighthouse. Some say that she fell from the top of the lighthouse, while others say that she was swept away by the waves. Peggy’s ghost is said to haunt the lighthouse, and her spirit has been known to manifest itself in a number of ways. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing her ghostly figure peeking out from behind the door of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. Others have claimed to have seen her playing on the grounds around the lighthouse. One of the most mysterious manifestations of Peggy’s ghost occurred in the early 1990s. A man who was visiting the lighthouse claimed to have seen Peggy’s ghost inside the tower. He said that he saw her standing at the top of the stairs, looking out over the ocean. When he called out to her, she vanished. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a fascinating place to visit. The history of the lighthouse and the stories of the ghosts that are said to haunt it make it a truly unique destination.
4. Other ghosts said to haunt the lighthouse include a woman in white, a man wearing a blue uniform, and a man with a beard.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts, including a woman in white, a man wearing a blue uniform, and a man with a beard. These ghosts are said to haunt the lighthouse and its surrounding grounds, and have been seen by both employees and visitors to the lighthouse. The woman in white is said to be the ghost of Annie Pederson, a former lighthouse keeper’s wife. Annie is said to haunt the lighthouse keepers’ quarters, and has been seen by both employees and visitors. The man in blue is said to be the ghost of a former lighthouse keeper, and is said to haunt the lighthouse itself. He has been seen by both employees and visitors, and is said to be responsible for the strange noises that sometimes occur in the lighthouse. The man with the beard is said to be the ghost of a former assistant lighthouse keeper, and is said to haunt the grounds of the lighthouse. He has been seen by both employees and visitors, and is said to be responsible for the strange smells that sometimes waft through the grounds. These ghosts are said to haunt the St. Augustine Lighthouse for a variety of reasons. Some say that they are unhappy with the changes that have been made to the lighthouse over the years. Others say that they are simply restless souls who were never able to rest in peace. Whatever the reason, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is certainly a place with a long history of hauntings.
5. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing strange lights, hearing strange noises, and feeling a sense of unease.
Many visitors to the St. Augustine Lighthouse have reported seeing strange lights, hearing strange noises, and feeling a sense of unease. Some say that the animals in the area behave differently as well, as if they can sense something that humans cannot. There are several theories as to why the lighthouse is so haunted, but the most popular one is that it is because of the shipwrecks that have occurred near the lighthouse. Over the years, many ships have sunk near the lighthouse, and it is said that the ghosts of those who perished in the shipwrecks still haunt the area. Some say that the ghosts of the shipwreck victims can be seen walking along the shoreline, while others say that they have seen ghostly ships sailing in the distance. Others have reported hearing the screams of those who drowned, and some say that they have even seen the ghosts of the shipwreck victims themselves. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the St. Augustine Lighthouse is one of the most haunted places in Florida.
6. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a haunted place and should be visited at your own risk.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. Ghost stories abound about this place and many people believe that it is truly haunted. The lighthouse is located on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, Florida and was built in 1874. It is said that the ghosts of the lighthouse keepers and their families still haunt the lighthouse. There have been many reports of strange noises, ghostly apparitions, and even autosomal recessive ichthyosis (ARCI) , which is a disorder that causes ghost-like appearances. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a beautiful place, but it is also a place that is said to be haunted. If you are planning on visiting the lighthouse, you should be aware that there have been reports of ghostly activity. You should also be aware that the lighthouse is located on Anastasia Island, which is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. If you are not comfortable with the idea of visiting a haunted place, then you may want to consider another destination.
7. If you’re looking for a spine-tingling experience, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is the place for you!
If you’re looking for a spine-tingling experience, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is the place for you! The lighthouse, which was built in 1873, is said to be haunted by the ghost of a worker who fell to his death while painting the structure. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing his ghostly figure climbing the stairs or looking out from the top of the tower. Other ghosts said to haunt the lighthouse include the spirit of a woman who died in a shipwreck near the coast, and the ghost of a little girl who was killed by a falling piece of the lighthouse. Visitors have reported seeing these ghosts wandering the grounds or peeking out from windows in the lighthouse. If you’re brave enough to visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse, be sure to keep an eye out for these ghosts!
The St. Augustine Lighthouse is a popular tourist destination for those who love a good ghost story. Visitors to the lighthouse have reported seeing the ghost of a woman in white, believed to be the wife of the original lighthouse keeper, and the ghost of a man who is believed to be the first assistant lighthouse keeper. There have also been reports of a ghostly figure climbing the stairs to the top of the lighthouse. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is a fascinating place to visit.
Jannette Teston is a content freelance writer with a passion for history and travel. With over five years of experience in the field, she has honed her skills in crafting engaging and informative articles that provide readers with valuable insights into the world of historical tourism. Jannette's expertise lies in writing about haunted places, historical landmarks, and cultural attractions from around the world. Her work is known for its attention to detail, accuracy, and ability to capture the essence of each location she covers. As a traveler herself, Jannette understands the importance of sharing authentic experiences with her readers. Her articles are not just informative but also entertaining and inspiring. Whether you're planning your next vacation or simply interested in learning more about historical places near you, Jannette's blog hauntinghistorytraveling.com is your go-to resource for all things related to history travel.
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In 1589 Italian cartographer (mapmaker), Giovanni Battista Boazio published his map of the raid of Sir Francis Drake on St. Augustine three years earlier. The map is the first documented archival reference of a wooden watchtower at the end of Anastasia Island. The watchtowers were erected by the Spanish crown during the building of the Castillo De San Marcos to keep enemy ships from taking Anastasia Island. The watchtower at the north end of the island eventually became the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and the one at the sound end became Fort Matanzas National Monument.
By 1737, the Spanish replaced earlier construction with a new 30-foot watchtower made of coquina (shell rock) and wood. A canoe was kept at the centinella for helping those stationed there warn the town of approaching vessels. A spar with halyards was raised to signal the direction from which ships traveled. Ships coming from the north might signal an enemy arrival.
Spain and Great Britain were often at war during this period. Just a few years before in 1731, the British Brigantine Rebecca had been boarded off the coast of La Florida by the Costa Guarda, on a ship named La Isabela . The Spanish captain, Juan de Leon Fandino reportedly cut off the left ear of British Capitan Robert Jenkins after accusations of smuggling. Years later, the British press whipped up a frenzy surrounding the incident when Great Britain attempted to take over Caribbean trade routes.
In 1739, Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose was established north of St. Augustine. Spanish Governor Manuel de Montiano created the community for escaped slaves and free blacks fleeing the English territories. Fort Mose attracted runaway slaves to Florida. Many traveled local waterways across the border. Running to freedom of course provoked the anger of British planters, and British forces occupied Mose during General James Oglethorpe’s 1740 siege of St. Augustine, destroying the fort. However, in 1752, the Spanish rebuilt the Fort Mose, and free people lived there until the British occupation of East Florida in 1763. Fort Mose was the first free African American Community in the United States.
The French and Indian War (aka the Seven Years War) finally ended. The British and her American colonies had defeated the combined forces of Spain and France. Florida was ceded to Great Britain and divided into East and West Florida. The new protectorates, including new Canadian territories, were added to the British Empire in alphabetical order, making Florida, East, and Florida, West the 14th and 15th British colonies in North America.
The Capital of East Florida was St. Augustine, a town of 500 homes. Spanish residents left for Cuba taking everything, even the nails in the wood. The British arrived at an empty town. However, they set about the task of stimulating trade and settlement. Grants of land were offered to those who were willing to settle in Florida within 10 years.
The British quickly heightened the Spanish watchtower on Anastasia Island with 30 feet of wooden construction. Many archival references support the establishment of a lighthouse in St. Augustine during the British Period (1763-1783). A 1764 French chart expertly details the maritime landscape of St. Augustine. The “Plan D Port de St. Augustine, dans la Flordie” by Royal French Hydrographer, Jacques Nicholas Bellin, in Petite Atlas Maritime , (P.K. Yong Library, The University of Florida) marks the lighthouse on Anastasia as a “balise “meaning “signal” or “mark.” Bellin is widely considered an expert in cartography of the waters of the Americas. His chart of the port at St. Augustine directs ships’ traffic through the narrow channel directly to the east of the “signal.”
In 1780, “A Plan of the Harbour of St. Augustine , Province of Georgia” by J.F.W Des Barres, Esq. in “ Atlantic Neptune” Lists the word “lighthouse” on Anastasia Island (Kenneth Atherton of The British Cartographic Society, 2002) And, in 1794, “ A Plan of Harbour of St. Augustine ” by Capt. N. Holland An inset from Plate 31 of “ A New Chart of the Coast of North America, identifies a “lighthouse” on Anastasia Island . The map displays a symbol of smoke from the top of the tower.
Shipwrecks continued to be serious problems. Provisions aboard the ill-fated supply ship, HMS Industry , have been studied by Museum archaeologists. HMS Industry sank off the shallow St. Augustine sand bar in 1763 carrying cannon with distinctive markings, the crest of King George II and the British Navy broad arrow. The cannon were destined for Fort Matanzas. Also lost were supplies of iron bar stock, axes, and grindstones for use in building the new colony.
Despite setbacks shipping and trade to and from East Florida increased under Governor Grant as the town traded with British colonies to the north. St. Augustine became a military stronghold for the British, but the relationship of Great Britain to its American colonies had shifted.The Stamp Act Crisis of 1765 (an attempt to pay for war debts) built an environment of rebellion that would eventually lead to the American Revolution.
On the night of New Year’s Eve, 1782, some 16 ships wrecked during a nor’ easter while attempting to enter the harbor. The ships were a few of the hundreds used by the British to evacuate Charles Town, (Charleston) SC, on December 14, 1781, following American victory in the Revolutionary War. Museum archaeologists have excavated one of these ships under permit from the State of Florida. Visitors can explore our findings in the exhibition, Wrecked!
Following the evacuation of its colonies to the north, the population of British St. Augustine swelled to about 30,000 people, about the same size as Philadelphia during the day. Thousands of Native Americas also came and camped outside the City Gates seeking British protection. Governor Patrick Tonyn struggled to feed and protect everyone, and he eventually closed out all British interests south of New York. Florida was ceded back to the Spanish in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. St. Augustine was once again a military outpost on the fringe of Spain’s colonies.
The Spanish quickly tore down the British, wooden construction atop the old watchtower, and then refortified it with coquina. If the tower was used as a lighthouse by the British, it may have returned to use as a watchtower under the Spanish system.
Maritime commerce continued to expand in the Spanish colony. An ongoing study by the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) of historical customs documents from the beginning of the Second Spanish Period in 1784 has shown that trade to St. Augustine was dominated by the newly independent ports of Savannah and Charleston. In 1806, 42 ships called at the port of St. Augustine, 37 from the United States and 5 from Havana (Griffin, 1983, as cited in Turner, Burke, Meide, 2007.). Business transports were small, shallow-draft Goleta, schooners, and balandras. Cargoes included barrels of flour, line for ship’s rigging, sweets, soap, Madeira wine, and a customary amount of beer.
It is during the Second Spanish period that many of the St. Augustine’s oldest families settled permanently here, returning from Cuba where they had fled before the American Revolution. Families named Hernandez, Sanchez, and Ponce among others, still populate the local area today.
Originally lit with a system of Winslow Lewis Argand lamps and reflector panels, the light from lighthouses in America was harder to see from ship than similar lighthouse beams that shown along the coast of Europe. A French engineer by the name of Jean Augustin Fresnel (pronounced Fruh-nel) perfected the Fresnel lens by 1822, changing modern optics forever. Nevertheless, the US Treasury was slow to adopt this improved system because of the expense of changing out the lenses. Instead, the light tower at St. Augustine was raised another 10 feet in 1852 in an effort to improve visibility. Finally, by 1853, the St. Augustine tower was held a new fourth-order Fresnel lens. A single lard oil lamp, fueled by whale oil was used for light.
During the American Civil War, (1861-1865) Confederate sympathizers living in St. Augustine removed and hid the lens and clockwork mechanisms in order to block Union shipping. The Union Navy steamed into the harbor on gunboats and took over St. Augustine peacefully. After jailing the future, St. Augustine Mayor Paul Arnau on a prison ship the whereabouts of the clockworks and lens was revealed.
The victorious American government relit the beacon in 1867. However, as the sea level was rising, it would not be long before a new St. Augustine Light Station was required. Now “professional” lighthouse keepers would be transferred from northern states to replace those Confederate sympathizers running the port before.
It soon became evident that this first St. Augustine Lighthouse tower was doomed to fall into the ocean. The US Congress appropriated $100,000 funding for a new lighthouse during the Florida Reconstruction Period. The U.S. Lighthouse Service began construction on a new 165-foot tower in 1871 and did not finish until 1874 Workers from St. Augustine included African American residents. Temporary buildings to house both people and horses were constructed on site and then were torn down so as not to change the appearance of the Light Station from the sea, as regulations required.
On October 15, 1874, lighthouse keeper William R. Russell lit the oil lamp inside the new, first-order Fresnel lens for the first time. He most likely walked to the tower from his residence at the old, St. Augustine Light Station, upon which the sea was rapidly encroaching. The lens is 9-feet tall, and Russell would have had to climb inside it to light the lamps.
The jewel-like lens was hand-made just for St. Augustine in Paris, France by the company of Sauter & Lemonier. It represented the height of Victorian engineering and technology and cast its beam much farther out to sea than its predecessor. The new light now demonstrated three, fixed-flashes, from three, bulls-eye panels that could be seen from up to 19- 24 nautical miles depending on atmospheric conditions. Fueled by oil and then kerosene before electricity came to the Light Station, the original lens would have given off a brightly hued, yellow light. Citizens living in town would have immediately noticed, and many have remained interested in it ever since.
On February 28, 1889, The Saint Augustine Weekly News described the lens in the following manner, “ The lamp was a brass cylinder of 10 gallons capacity. Inside it has a heavyweight, which governs the flow of oil to the burner. The burner has five wicks in concentric circles. A chimney leads to the roof. It has a damper, which regulates the flame. The globe is a huge case of glass, which revolves around the lamp every 9 minutes. It makes a flash every three minutes when a big bulls-eye lines up between the lamp and the human eye. The cage weighs two tons.”
The authentic lens remains active and preserved in the St. Augustine Lighthouse today thanks to the efforts of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine and its president Virginia Whetstone, Dan Spinella, Cullen Chambers and USCG veterans Joe Cocking and Nick Johnston of Lighthouse Lamp Shop. The team saved the lens from a vandal’s bullet over a quarter of a century ago. The United States Coast Guard gave the lighthouse tower and the Fresnel lens to the Museum in 2002 in recognition of the strength of the Museum organization.
According to Thomas Graham’s Awakening of St. Augustine , “On May 11, 1874, First Lt. Richard H. Pratt assumed custody of 72 Indian prisoners and escorted them by train to St. Augustine. The captives were Kiowa, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahos and one Caddo. Separated from their families, the distraught prisoners starved themselves or perished on the journey. One was shot attempting to escape.”
The prisoners were initially shackled and confined in the humid fort. However, eventually, Pratt allowed the men to bathe in the inlet and cut their hair. He issued them an army uniform and allowed them to visit Anastasia Island where they ran foot races, learned about oyster roasts and fished for sharks, a fish they named “water buffalo.” They eventually roamed about the town and even helped put out a house fire. (Graham, T., 2008, 5, p. 40-41).
The native captives witnessed the lighting of the new lighthouse tower that took place on October 15, 1874. The enhancement to transportation must have been enormous. More advancement in transportation, however, soon brought about a decline in the importance of our local lighthouse. The railroad had been developing locally since the 1850s.
In 1883, a river rail between Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Halifax made arrival easier. Moreover, in the winter of 1884, a wealthy visitor named Henry Flagler, a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, came to St. Augustine and decided to transform it. Flagler developed St. Augustine into a major resort town for wealthy patrons from northern climates, heralding Florida as paradise. He also provided a means for tourists to arrive at and check into his new hotels safely, investing in both rail lines and steamships. St. Augustine quickly flourished with increased tourism. Flagler extended his railroads and hotels south into Florida developing Palm Beach and eventually even building a railroad into Key West, a move that some called Flagler’s Folly.
In the late 1880’s Victorian, tourists from Henry Flagler’s grand hotels visited the island by horse-drawn cart or by rowboat for day excursions. Guests occasionally had tea on the large lighthouse rubble at low tide. African Americans built fires for oyster roasts and helped row the tourists to the island and back, making extra money on which to survive.
The steam engine meant that movement upstream, against the current or against the wind became much more manageable. But, shipwrecks still occurred, as one located by St. Augustine Lighthouse archaeologists attests. The vessel is a steam engine that is filled with barrels of concrete. Perhaps this shipment was meant as building materials for use in Flagler’s grand hotels?
At any rate, over all it was much easier for steam-powered vessels using St. Augustine’s harbor to power around the shallow bar. And, the new lighthouse and the railroad allowed farmers and fishermen to ship goods quickly and effectively to eager northern markets. Hastings, in west St. Johns County, soon became the potato and vegetable capital of the region while St. Augustine’s commercial fishing industry flourished after the turn of the 20th century.
A Coastal Lookout Building was constructed at the St. Augustine Light Station in late 1941 and early 1942 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. However, life had not changed dramatically on the East Coast. Americans still felt a sense of separation the war. The sinking of the SS Gulf America off the coast of Jacksonville, FL in April 1942 changed that feeling. Candlepower in the lighthouse was reduced. Blackout curtains were required in every home, and cars drove without headlights. The war was close by.
U-Boat 123, Korvettsenkapitan Reinhard Hardegen was on his second patrol to the Americas. The mission was to interrupt British supply lines and demoralize everyday citizens. On his first journey, he sailed into the harbor of NYC and looked out at the American shoreline. Now, Hardegen prowled the St. Johns County and Duval County coast before finding a target for his torpedoes. He mentioned “the slender lighth ouse” in his logbook, and noted how clearly the coast could be seen without binoculars. The explosion of the SS Gulf America could be seen for miles. Eyewitnesses rushed to the beach to watch as Hardegan surfaced his U-boat between the tanker and the shore and fired on the vessel to finish it off. Despite being hit by depth charges, U-123 managed to escape and limped back to Germany.
Not long after in June 1942 German spies from Operation Pastorius choose Ponte Vedra (and New York) as landing sites. A submarine surfaced in view of the shore and four men disembarked, buried explosives, and caught a bus to Jacksonville. At least one of them spoke perfect English. The FBI learned of the operation when one of the NYC team became nervous and reported the others. Buried on Ponte Vedra beach were blocks of TNT molded as soap for the laundry, a “pen” that could start fires, and a detonation device. The four spies from Ponte Vedra were executed within weeks of landing.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard responded with beach patrols using Jeeps, horses and guard dogs. Armed guards were stationed at St. Augustine Lighthouse to watch the sea 24 hours a day. The passing of each friendly ship was marked with a board and a string. Coordinates were radioed to U.S. Naval Headquarters at Government House, and the next watch station was alerted. The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, trained at St. Augustine’s Flagler College and all over St. Johns County for service around the world.
Thousands of veterans’ artifacts are preserved by the Museum staff. You can help us tell this story when you visit. Thank you.
In 1970, a suspicious fire gutted the vacated keeper’s house, which had been declared excess by the government. St. Johns County was about to purchase the property, and condominiums were discussed as one possibility for the best use of the land. In 1980, as bulldozers threatened, in stepped the Junior Service League with a will to restore the property and open a maritime museum. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the next 15 years, the Junior Service League would dig in hands-on and raise over $1.2 million to restore the keepers’ house, the lighthouse tower and the original Fresnel lens. The lens had been shot by a vandal’s bullet, damaging 19 prisms in the beehive structure. The US Coast Guard shut down the lens in 1991 and replaced it with a modern airport beacon, but the League quickly rose to this challenge. The keepers’ house restoration was finished in 1990, and in 1991, the League signed a lease with the U.S. Coast Guard and opened part time to the public. In 1993, the Junior Service League of St. Augustine held the first Community Day with a lens relighting and fireworks. The Cable News Network (CNN) covered the first restoration of a Fresnel lens in the nation.
A maritime museum opened full-time in early 1994. What is today the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum Inc., separately incorporated from the League in 1998. A community based Board of Trustees was seated representing the diversity of the area. The following year, a second not-for-profit, the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program was formed to help the Museum study shipwrecks and coastal resources.
In 2001, Museum archaeologists recorded the foundations of the first lighthouse tower, as well as working on the remains of the first of a series of British shipwrecks off shore, under permit from the State of Florida.
Today in addition to an active research program, the Museum owns the entire Light Station property, including the tower and Fresnel lens, given to the Museum by the United States Coast Guard in 2002. A national preservation award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized the work of the Museum in establishing a new federal preservation law and continuing to preserve the site to the Secretary’s Standards
A collection of 19,000 objects, archival documents and archaeological specimens is held in trust for future generations at the Museum. Over 216,000 visitors including thousands of school age children enjoy educational programs and tours. Visitors can step up to help the non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum save maritime history. The Museum is a Smithsonian affiliate that was accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2017.
The current lighthouse tower is 145 years old in October 2019. It is one part of an aid-to-navigation system here supporting military defense, travel, trade, fishing, boat building and pleasure boating since the 16th century.
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Haunted St. Augustine
Why there’s more to our historic landmarks than meets the eye.
With a history spanning over four centuries, it’s natural that the ancient city would have its share of supernatural stories. A visit to some of our iconic landmarks leaves many guests believing the Nation’s Oldest City is also the most haunted.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
Let’s start at the top. The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum is famous for its breathtaking view from the top of its 219-step climb. But there are many guests who’ve been enthralled with other sightings, such as the Pittee sisters, daughters of Hezekiah Pittee, who oversaw the construction of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Riding a construction cart down to the water was a favorite pastime of the Pittee children. Unfortunately, one summer day in 1873, the cart carrying the girls flipped into the water, trapping two of the daughters and a friend underneath. Since the accident, strange occurrences have been repeatedly attributed to the spirits of the girls including footsteps heard by a relief Lighthouse Keeper. There have always been sightings of a small girl standing by the bed of the Keeper’s house renter. And time and time again, there are apparitions of the girls playing hide and seek during tours and on the grounds. The stories go on and on. This is all the more reason to see for yourself during a Dark of the Moon Tour at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. You’ve been warned.
Old Jail Museum in St. Augustine
St. Augustine’s Old Jail Museum is scary enough during the day. But after dark , it’s quite the chilling place. During a 45-minute experience, visitors can participate in an actual paranormal investigation of what is generally considered the city’s most haunted building. After all, it housed prisoners from 1891 to 1953 in deplorable conditions and was the site of several documented hangings and mysterious or unnatural deaths. All of this makes the Old Jail an epicenter for paranormal activity. And whether you’re a ghost hunter or just curious, you’ll be prepared to encounter strange and peculiar phenomena with experienced guides, state-of-the-art equipment and investigative techniques in your quest for evidence of the supernatural kind.
St. Francis Inn
As the oldest inn in Saint Augustine, built in 1791, the St. Francis Inn has had its share of ghost sightings and stories. One particular story goes back to the fate of two star-crossed lovers, a slave girl beaten savagely for her affair, and her lover, the nephew of the then manager who committed suicide upon learning of her death. Since that time, many guests have reported unnatural phenomena that include male and female apparitions, guests waking up under the bed, ghostly hands-on bedposts, and pictures and personal property being moved about the room.
Casa de Suenos
Casa de Suenos may be the spookiest bed and breakfast in St. Augustine. Quite possibly the reason is before it was converted into a bed and breakfast, it catered to a different clientele: the dead, as it was a successful funeral home. Guests have reported seeing apparitions, and some have had objects moved about in their rooms. Of course, if this kind of nighttime activity interests you, be our guest!
Saint Augustine Restaurants & Pubs
Even restaurants and pubs have their share of supernatural sightings in St. Augustine. Apparitions have been sighted at Stogies Cigar Bar and in the restroom at Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille , to name a few. At the very least, you’ll never be alone in your search for a thrilling, if not chilling, experience in haunted St. Augustine.
Visiting St. Augustine during Halloween? Check out our Halloween page for other spooky tours and ideas for your trip.
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More ghostly encounters.
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Ghosts of St. Augustine’s Past: October 27–30, 2022
Celebrate five centuries of historic fashion and folklore during this weekend event in the Ancient City.
Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille 46 Avenida Menendez St. Augustine, Florida 32084
St. Francis Inn 279 St. George St. St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Casa de Suenos Bed & Breakfast 20 Cordova St. St. Augustine, Florida 32084
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum 100 Red Cox Dr. St. Augustine, Florida 32080
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Haunted Spots in St. Augustine
Nestled along the scenic shores of Florida, St. Augustine stands as a city adorned with cobblestone streets and historic charm. However, beneath its picturesque façade lies a spectral realm teeming with tales of restless spirits and haunted history. Join us on a chilling journey as we uncover the haunted spots that have earned St. Augustine its reputation as one of the most paranormally active cities in the United States.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Perched majestically on Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Lighthouse is more than just a maritime landmark; it’s a beacon for the supernatural. With a history dating back to the 19th century, the lighthouse is said to be haunted by the phantoms of former keepers and their families. Visitors report eerie apparitions and unexplained sounds, making it a must-visit for those seeking an otherworldly encounter.
Castillo de San Marcos
Built in the 17th century, the formidable Castillo de San Marcos has stood witness to centuries of tumultuous history. Today, it stands as a sentinel of the paranormal, with reports of ghostly soldiers and spectral prisoners haunting its ancient walls. Explore the mysteries within the fortress and listen for the echoes of the past that reverberate through time.
Among the ancient tombstones of Huguenot Cemetery, the restless spirits of Yellow Fever victims from the 19th century are said to linger. Visitors have reported strange noises and ghostly apparitions, creating an atmosphere that transcends the boundaries between the living and the dead. Pay your respects to the departed while keeping a watchful eye on the spectral energies that may surround you.
As one of the oldest cemeteries in Florida, Tolomato Cemetery exudes an air of antiquity. The spirits of the past are rumored to wander among the weathered tombstones, and visitors have reported unsettling experiences. Explore the historic grounds, and let the whispers of the departed guide you through the cryptic tales of Tolomato.
St. Francis Inn
This historic bed and breakfast is rumored to be haunted, with guests reporting ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena. The inn has a long history, and some believe that the spirits of past residents still linger.
A Paranormal Pilgrimage in St. Augustine
St. Augustine, with its cobblestone streets and ancient structures, offers a captivating journey into the paranormal. We are here to be your guides! Check out our tour offerings for a personal guided walk among the ghosts of St. Augustine’s past.
- Clock 1.5 Hours
Get to hear the stories of the forgotten, oldest, darkest, and most dead part of the town! We will be touring — rain or shine — for a good amount of time, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes ready for running away from ghosts. Book online!
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The Original Haunted Pub Tour
Get ready for thrills and chills while you cheer with us at the haunted pubs on the best and original St. Augustine Haunted Pub Crawl! Each night is a new unique adventure – since 2002! Book online today!
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Haunted History and The Ghosts of the St. Augustine Lighthouse
- Ghost & Hauntings , PLUS+ Content
Throughout the years, many ghost facts have been established about the St. Augustine Lighthouse that sits on the Atlantic Coast. When it comes to haunted places in Florida, this particular lighthouse is considered to be one of the most popular, reports greatest-unsolved-mysteries.com. The main reason for this is the location. This structure is located in what is referred to as the “Nation’s Oldest City” or the “Ancient City” . St. Augustine is a location with a violent and extensive past. Due to the age of the city itself, there are many ghost facts surrounding many of the historical buildings and…
Jake Carter is a journalist and a most prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and unexplained since childhood.
He is not afraid to challenge the official narratives and expose the cover-ups and lies that keep us in the dark. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.
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St. Augustine Vacation: Florida's Historic Coastal Gem
Posted: January 12, 2024 | Last updated: January 12, 2024
Vacationing in St. Augustine, FL, presents a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history of America's oldest city, where history and coastal beauty intertwine seamlessly.
This enchanting destination is well known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and beautiful Atlantic coastline. From exploring the ancient streets of the historic district, brimming with museums, quaint shops, and restaurants, to relaxing on the sun-kissed beaches, St. Augustine is a perfect blend of cultural richness and leisure.
Spring, from March to May, is the best time to visit St. Augustine, Florida, as the weather is comfortably warm, and the city is adorned with colorful blooms. From June to August, summer brings the sunniest and hottest days, making it perfect for beach lovers, but be prepared for some crowds.
Fall, from September to November, offers pleasant weather and fewer tourists, making it an excellent time for a quieter visit. Finally, winter, from December to February, brings mild temperatures, and the city is beautifully decorated for the holidays, offering a cozy and festive atmosphere.
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Hotels in St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine has many different options for accommodations, including historic and beachfront hotels, charming bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals on Airbnb or Vrbo. You’ll also find your favorite hotel brands like Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt. Here are a few great places to stay in St. Augustine.
Casa Monica Resort & Spa (Luxury and Location): Originally built in 1888 and beautifully restored, it is located in the heart of St. Augustine's historic district. It is a luxury hotel known for its striking Moorish Revival architecture and lavish interiors. The resort offers guests a full-service spa, gourmet dining options, and close proximity to the city's attractions.
The Ponce St. Augustine Hotel (Location and Value): Less than a mile from St. Augustine’s historic district and attractions, this hotel offers guests a comfortable stay with amenities such as an outdoor pool and on-site dining. Being just outside the Historic District, it's a great way to stay near St. Augustine’s attractions without paying premium prices.
Villa 1565 Hotel (Budget Friendly): Less than a mile from the historic district, this hotel is a budget-friendly option for those not planning to spend much time in their hotel room. It is also the site of the Old Senator, a 600-year-old live oak tree, and within walking distance of Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.
Castillo Resort Hotel (Beachfront): Just a short walk to the Atlantic Ocean and St. Augustine Beach, this is an excellent option for those wanting a beach vacation. The hotel offers Spanish-inspired rooms with balcony and hot tub options and includes an outdoor pool, sauna and steam room, and fitness center. It is located near Anastasia State Park, a 6-minute drive to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and about 10 minutes from the Historic District.
Restaurants in St. Augustine, Florida
The city's culinary scene includes seafood restaurants specializing in fresh, locally sourced catches. Many establishments serve traditional Southern and Floridian cuisine, featuring fried green tomatoes, gator tail, and key lime pie.
St. Augustine has several Spanish, Italian, and Mediterranean restaurants for those interested in international flavors. The city also offers cozy cafés, charming restaurants, upscale fine dining options, casual eateries, historic taverns, and bars. Favorites from our St. Augustine, Florida, trip include:
Things to Do in St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida, offers many activities and attractions that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you're a history buff, a nature enthusiast, an art lover, or simply looking to relax by the coast, this historic city a little bit of everything.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a remarkable example of 17th-century military architecture and is the oldest masonry fort in the United States.
Constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695, this historic fortress is made from coquina, a unique sedimentary rock composed of compressed seashells, which has endured centuries of battles and sieges.
The fort's history includes periods of control by the Spanish, British, and Americans, reflecting the region's tumultuous past. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, offering a glimpse into St. Augustine’s storied past.
Pro Tip: Some have reported seeing Spanish soldiers and orbs in photos taken at Castillo de San Marcos at night, so be sure to snap some photos!
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is known as the original site of the 1565 settlement of St. Augustine. The park offers a unique opportunity to explore various exhibits and demonstrations that depict the lives of the first Spanish settlers and the Native American tribes they encountered.
One of the park's most famous features is the legendary Fountain of Youth, a natural spring that has been a source of enduring myth and storytelling, famously associated with Ponce de León's quest for eternal youth.
The park also includes a planetarium, a reconstructed Spanish watchtower, and living history reenactments, making it an educational and entertaining experience.
Alligator Farm Zoological Park
The Alligator Farm Zoological Park is a unique and fascinating attraction that offers an up-close look at various species of alligators and crocodiles, making it a one-of-a-kind experience.
Established in 1893, it stands as one of Florida's oldest continuously running attractions, providing entertainment and educational insights into the lives of these ancient reptiles. The park features a range of exhibits, including the thrilling Crocodile Crossing zip-line adventure and the exotic bird rookery.
It's known for being the only place in the world where you can see every living species of crocodilian. Alongside the crocodilians, the park houses a variety of other animals, such as lemurs, monkeys, and a range of snakes and birds, offering a comprehensive and engaging wildlife experience in the heart of St. Augustine.
The Lightner Museum is a true cultural gem housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Henry Flagler. This architectural marvel is an exquisite example of the Spanish Renaissance Revival style.
The museum's collection is as diverse as it is unique, featuring everything from fine and decorative 19th-century art to curious artifacts of the era, such as cut glass, Victorian art glass, and the intriguing music room with rare mechanical musical instruments. You can wander through the museum's spacious halls, exploring rooms filled with Tiffany glass, delicate porcelain, and intricate stained glass works.
Ghost Tours in St. Augustine, Florida
Taking a ghost tour in St. Augustine is a spine-tingling adventure that allows you to delve into the city's eerie and haunted history. With its centuries-old buildings and tumultuous past, St. Augustine has numerous haunted locations that come to life under the cloak of darkness.
Visitors can go on guided tours that lead them through dimly lit streets and atmospheric alleys, visiting haunted locations like the Castillo de San Marcos, where ghostly apparitions have been reported, the Tolomato Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in the city, and the Old Jail, known for its tragic history. We enjoyed a walking tour with A Ghostly Encounter .
Old Town Trolley Tour
Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine offers visitors an engaging and convenient way to explore the historic city's rich heritage and landmarks. Since 1989, this iconic tour company has provided narrated trolley rides that take guests through the centuries, showcasing St. Augustine's fascinating history.
With knowledgeable guides and hop-on-hop-off flexibility, tourists can discover attractions such as the Castillo de San Marcos, the Lightner Museum, and Flagler College while learning about the city's Spanish colonial past and Gilded Age.
Flagler College Tour
Located within the former Ponce de León Hotel, a magnificent Gilded Age structure, the college's student-guided golf cart tours provide an opportunity to explore the lavish halls, Tiffany stained-glass windows, and beautiful courtyard of the campus.
Led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable student guides, these tours offer insights into the college's academic programs and delve into the fascinating history of the building itself, once a luxurious resort. You can learn about the legacy of Henry Flagler, the college's founder, and gain a deep appreciation for the preservation of this architectural gem.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
At the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, you can climb the 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse for breathtaking views of the Atlantic coast and the historic city. The maritime museum artifacts and exhibits about the area's nautical past.
For those intrigued by the supernatural, the lighthouse offers nighttime ghost tours, where you can delve into its haunted history and possibly experience paranormal activity.
St. Augustine Beach
It's the perfect destination for beachgoers looking to soak up the sun, swim in the Atlantic Ocean, or engage in water sports like surfing and paddleboarding. The St. Augustine Beach Pier is popular for fishing and enjoying scenic ocean views. In addition to the beach itself, the area features a vibrant beachfront community with a range of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is a natural haven that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. For those looking to explore the great outdoors, there are nature trails that wind through maritime hammocks and salt marshes, perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting.
The park also has opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding, with the picturesque Salt Run waterway providing a serene backdrop for aquatic adventures. Camping enthusiasts can enjoy a stay in the park's campgrounds, immersing themselves in the beauty of the coastal environment.
St. Augustine, Florida Vacation
Vacationing in St. Augustine, Florida, is an enchanting experience that blends history, natural beauty, and coastal charm. From exploring the city's historic district and iconic landmarks to relaxing on the sun-soaked beaches and trying local cuisine, St. Augustine offers a range of activities for travelers of all interests.
Whether you're drawn to the rich cultural heritage, the opportunity to witness centuries-old architecture, or simply seeking a tranquil retreat by the sea, this historic city has something to offer just about everyone.
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Underground History: Splendor and Misery of the Moscow Metro
A public lecture by GABOR RITTERSPORN, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, Centre d'Etudes des Mondes Russe, Caucasien et Centre-Europeen
The Moscow metro is a rare achievement of the Soviet regime continuing to receive virtually unanimous acclaim from post-Soviet citizens. Even those who decry it as a product of Stalinism recognize qualities of the subway's sumptuous architecture and decoration at least by taking it for spectacular kitsch.
The metro is expected to impress the world. It was intended to convey a clear message at the beginning. For fifty-five years the architecture and decoration had been meant to manifest a will to represent and celebrate the Soviet project, which was supposedly the construction of a radically new world of abundance, justice and happiness. The post-Soviet metro is also grappling with the task of representing values, those of the New Regime's architects.
One can make sense of Soviet and post-Soviet imageries of the best of possible worlds through interpreting the decoration of the underground and putting it in historical perspective. The exercise may reveal meanings contemporaries have been unlikely to grasp. It can also open eyes on trends historians are not necessarily aware of.
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A ride across passages of history - Moscow Metro rolls on
Click on the map to enlarge it
Lying at a depth of 5 (Pechatniki station) to 80 metres (Park Pobedy station), the history of the last eight decades unfold before your eyes, carved out of marble and granite and built in iron and glass – revealing the tastes, ideas, dreams, hopes and disappointments of the previous generations and contemporaries. The Moscow Metro dates back to 1931, when its construction first began, although engineers Pyotr Balinsky and Evgeny Knorre submitted their first designs to the Moscow City Duma as far back as 1902. “His speeches carried a strong temptation: like a true demon, he would promise to cast Moscow down to the bottom of the sea and raise it above the clouds”, a journalist for the Russkoye Slovo newspaper commented on Balinsky’s idea. Yet the Duma, made up of rich people, did not bite the bait: after all, they all lived in the centre of the city and never rode overcrowded trams.
After five failed proposals before the Duma, the Moscow Metro finally threw open its doors on May 15, 1935, 18 years after the revolution, and carried the first passengers on its moving staircases, escalators, and the padded seats of its new wagons (unlike the wooden seats in trams). The first metro line – from Sokolniki to Dvorets Sovetov (now known as Kropotkinskaya) -- was 11 km long and had 13 stations. Now, the Moscow Metro has a track of over 300 km with 12 lines and 182 stations. The city’s development outline for 2020 envisages that, by then, another 120 km will have been added to the existing routes.
For the first 20 years of its history, the Moscow Metro was named after Lazar Kaganovich, the “iron commissar” and Stalin’s right hand man, who was in-charge of construction of the first stage of the metro (incidentally, he personally blew up the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in December 1931 as a part of the Proletarian Capital project). In 1955, however, the Metro was renamed after Vladimir Lenin. Although Russia has long since changed its political track, you can still find the images of the former leader at over 10 stations, including, for instance, busts of Lenin at Belorusskaya and Komsomolskaya stations, impressive mosaics at Baumanskaya and Kievskaya stations, a tile panel in the passage between the Borovitskaya and Biblioteka Imeni Lenina stations. By a bitter irony of fate, Lenin’s full-face and side-face images decorate the Tsaritsyno (translated as the Tsarina’s Estate) station (dubbed Lenino up until 1990) – images of the very person who ordered the shooting of the royal family. You will not, however, find any images of Stalin in Moscow’s underground. A symbol of Russia's victory, he was omnipresent in the late 1940s. After his death in 1953 and the denunciation of Stalin’s personality cult, his images were gradually withdrawn from the Moscow Metro.
“Architecture developed along the same lines, both above and below the surface. Anything that emerged above ground had a reflection underground. It is equally true that vice versa never occurred: good architecture underground but bad architecture above the ground,” says Nikolay Shumakov, chief architect of the Moscow Metro. The first metro stations, up until the mid-1950s, were conceived and built as luxurious “palaces for the people”, great architecture for a great state. Art historians insist that the richly-decorated underground was a deliberate ideological move to eulogise the young Soviet country. Stations built between 1937 and 1955 are characteristic of the first architectural period. Everything completed at this time is worthy of special attention. For instance, look at the ceiling at Mayakovskaya and Novokuznetskaya stations to see mosaic panels based on designs by artist Alexander Deineka – 24-Hour Soviet Sky and Heroic Labour of the Soviet People on the Home Front. The mosaics were assembled by famous mosaic artist Vladimir Frolov, author of the mosaic icons in St. Petersburg’s Church of the Saviour on Blood. The Ploshchad Revolutsii station was decorated with 76 bronze sculptures of workers, soldiers, farmers, students and other Soviet people. You can even find a frontier guard with a dog and rub its nose for good luck. You may also note that all the figures (except pioneers) are either sitting or bent, which engendered the sad joke – “Any Soviet man is either in jail or on his knees.”
Elements of decoration in Moscow's metro. Photos by Alexandr Ganyushin
1955 heralded the end of the good times for Russian architecture – both underground and above ground – after the Communist Party issued a decree "On elimination of extravagance in design and construction.” Dull stations, without any stucco work, mosaics, original columns or other “unjustified” elements, were built under the slogan “Kilometres at the expense of architecture”. Things were the same above the ground, where entire cities were built of commonplace five-storey apartment blocks, all looking the same, nicknamed ‘Khrushchevkas’ after the then leader, Nikita Khrushchev. To get a sense of this period’s architecture, see the few stations built in the 1960s-1980s like Tverskaya, Kitay-Gorod and Kolomenskaya. In 2002, with the reconstruction of the Vorobyovy Gory station, the development of the Moscow Metro entered a third stage, which could be defined as ‘renaissance’. The platform of the station offers a splendid view of the Moskva River, the Luzhniki Olympic Complex and the Academy of Sciences building. Architectural canons of the 1930s-1940s were once again in use in the design of underground stations. By the same token, artists once again become involved in decorating the stations. As such, the Sretensky Bulvar station boasts silhouettes of Pushkin, Gogol, and Timiryazev and Moscow sights; the Dostoevskaya station is decorated with black-and-white panels featuring the main characters from Dostoyevsky’s novels The Idiot, Demons, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and the Maryina Roshcha station flaunts its pastoral mosaic landscapes. In 2004, Russia's first monorail transport system was launched into service – an elevated track (running 6 to 12 metres above the ground) in the northern part of Moscow, linking the All-Russian Exhibition Centre and the Timiryazevskaya metro station. The evolution of the Moscow Metro goes on. It’s still a work in progress, with ambitious plans to move the Moscow Metro even closer to passengers over the next ten years, not just by adding an extra 120 km to its total track. “We want to strip the stations of everything we can,” says Nikolai Shumakov. “We are trying to show the passengers their very framework, what the metro is made of. Cast iron and concrete are beautiful.”
Joy ride: Read Gogol, Dante or savour art
The Aquarelle Train. Source: Reuters/Vostock-Photo
With any luck, you can ride in a retro train, a moving art gallery or a library. The trains are actually a part of the general traffic (i.e., they do not run to any special schedule) and are used on certain lines. The Reading Moscow Train , an ordinary train on the face of it, features extracts from literary works for adults and children. Each wagon has its own selection, from children’s fairy tales to Gogol. Circle Line. The Poetry in Metro Train carries an exposition, updated this year, dedicated to Italian poets Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Giacomo Leopardi, etc. All the poems are featured in two languages, Russian and Italian. Filevskaya Line. The Sokolniki Retro Train looks exactly like the first Moscow Metro train, both inside and out. Painted brown, it has padded seats, typical wall decorations and retro lamps. Sokolnicheskaya Line. The Aquarelle Train looks like a cabinet painted with flowers and fruit on the outside. Inside, it is an art gallery featuring art reproductions from the Vyatka Apollinary and Viktor Vasnetsov Art Museum. Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line.
Revolution Square station (built in 1938) is close to the Red Square area. There are 72 sculptures in the station, depicting the people of the Soviet Union, including soldiers, farmers, athletes, writers, industrial workers and school children.
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