ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The iconic St. Augustine Lighthouse tower is undergoing a big facelift.
Outside, painting typically occurs every five to six years, but for the first time in 30 years, the inside is being worked on.
Even though the project is heavily funded, the museum could still use some help with donations.
For nearly 150 years, the St. Augustine Lighthouse has served as an iconic symbol. Even though crews are hard at work, people still come by to take in the spectacle.
“Being this close to a lighthouse has been a dream of mine,” said Nicki Mapoli, who was visiting from Tampa. “Even though it is under restoration, it gives you something to look forward to in coming back to view the magic all over again.”
The magic is well on the way. The full restoration project includes painting, metal and cast-iron work and rust removal. In addition, four steps will be replaced.
Taking care of the lighthouse is everything to Kathy Fleming, the executive director of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.
“It just gives a lift to your heart,” Fleming said. “You know, you drive by it and you see that light come on. It’s just really special. It’s the front porch light for our community.”
The windows have since been temporarily removed, but, as Fleming explained, they had quite the experience during Hurricane Matthew.
“The pressure on the inside actually blew the windows out of the lighthouse. It was fascinating. It got very intense in there. And the windows came out -- poof! Kind of popped out, and the trees in the back caught them,” Fleming said.
The museum is still about $400,000 short of funding the entire project. One thing you can do to donate is to buy a ticket and go visit.
The tower is closed during the restoration but is expected to reopen soon. Fleming said Monday that if all goes according to plan, people should be able to go back inside by the end of next week -- bringing new visitors and new generations.
“The lighthouse gives you that peace. I think that’s kind of a metaphor for all of us right now,” Fleming said. “You need a guiding light in some ways in your life, so it’s a good thing.”
The restoration of the cherished landmark will ensure its guiding light forever shines.