Lighthouse Restoration

A lighthouse is very much like a ship at sea where you are constantly having to paint and repair things.  That takes a lot of time, energy and money.  If you let it go very long, you'll be in trouble – it'll go down real fast. – John Roberts *


We are thrilled to announce the opening of our newly restored lighthouse! It took several years and more than a million dollars to achieve the goal of a beautiful, fully operational landmark. You can learn more on our website or better yet, come visit us!

The St. Marks Lighthouse is the 2nd oldest lighthouse in Florida and in 1972 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places while under ownership of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair and although Friends wanted to restore it, it took more than a decade before we could really get started. Then, in 2013 the Coast Guard transferred ownership to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge and we could begin!

Friends gave the project top priority, raising funding and managing the restoration. After four years of hard work of many generous, talented people, we finished in 2018. (view our restoration milestones)

A 2015 documentary produced by the Florida Channel (WFSU-TV and the Florida State Legislature) tells more about the early days of restoration as well as lighthouse history.

We could not have done it without the wonderful support of Kenneth Smith Architects in Jacksonville, the premier historical lighthouse architect, who provided not only a full assessment of everything needed to make it perfect but also helped guide the work.

Friends worked hard to raise the funding, securing significant grants from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Florida Lighthouse Association, and the Duke Energy Foundation. Our Friends group provided substantial funding as did many individual donors. And, there were many very generous in-kind donations.

To maintain our unique landmark requires a true partnership between Friends and the Refuge. The Refuge staff has embraced management of the lighthouse but they require ongoing funding to maintain our “ship at sea.” Friends is committed for the long-term to keep our lighthouse beautiful, operational and open to the public. Please join us today in support of our wonderful coastal legacy.

Before and After




* John Roberts is the grandson of John Young Gresham, the longest serving and next-to-last keeper of the St. Marks Lighthouse.