Visit the Past
The past is on display at the recently restored St. Marks Lighthouse, and you can take a tour. Tour guides are trained Refuge volunteers and have stories and interesting facts to share. History will come alive in this beautiful landmark building.
Please be aware that climbing the tower is not permitted. Also pets, food, beverages, wet clothing, smoking and vaping are not allowed.
Map and Tour Guide *
This handy annotated map of the “Keeper’s Quarters” will help guide you through the building as you step into the past to explore what it was like to be part of a Lighthouse family. Trained Volunteer Interpreters will be on hand to answer your questions, provide more detail, and share stories about the people who lived and worked here. As you enter the Keeper’s Quarters you will be standing in “A – THE FOYER.” Your tour begins there…
A - The Foyer
This room has served as both a living room and a school room. Notice the photo of Keeper John Young Gresham, Sr. and his wife, Lela Fine Gresham. Marvel at the rotating Carlisle & Finch Lamp Changer mechanism for quickly replacing burned out 1,000 watt bulbs in the 4th order Fresnel lens when the light was automated in 1960. Pause a moment to follow the St. Marks Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Time Line.
B - The Tower Room
Stand at the base of the long leaf pine center post and gaze up the winding cypress steps towards the Lantern Room. Imagine the Keepers and their families carrying fuel up to fill the lamps. The room in which you are standing was once used as a bedroom for the school teacher who lived with the family on the isolated “lighthouse island.”
C - The Keeper’s Office / Fuel Storage Room
Over the years, this room has served as the Keeper’s Office and also the storage area for the lard, kerosene, and whale oil that fueled the lamps in the Lantern Room. The replica white formal uniform is what a Keeper might have worn in the summer months. Entries in the Keeper’s Log on the desk were copied from the original in the National Archives, in Washington, D.C. Note the tiny window overlooking Apalachee Bay.
D - The Family Room
At one time, this room served as the master bedroom for the family. Learn the names of the men and women who kept the light. See photos of the children who grew up in the St. Marks Lighthouse. Enjoy the vintage wooden toys as you try to get “the egg in the cup.” Read what the job of Light Keeper entailed. Note the replica of the dark blue formal uniform a Keeper might have chosen to wear in cold weather.
E - Revolving Exhibits / A/ V Room
At one time, the room held two beds for the girls of the family. The exhibits in this room are always changing. You may see actual tools used by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) when they “built” the Refuge, or learn the history of “The Legacy Oak.” The room may be filled with vintage toys and games, or feature a display about the Civil War days at the lighthouse. A virtual climb up the Tower may be showing on the large monitor screen.
F - The Kitchen
Enjoy the warm, inviting atmosphere of this traditional family gathering place. Pick up a free copy of recipes gathered from actual historic Lighthouse kitchens. Ponder the deep cistern in the corner. Examine the collection of artifacts discovered during the restoration/renovation of the building. Peek into the inside of the wall to see how it was constructed. Sign your name in our Guest Register.
G - Accessibility Ramp and Covered Porch
The long expanse of the newly installed accessibility ramp stands on the very ground where an old wooden boardwalk once stood many years ago. That old boardwalk, called “the run” by the families who lived here, led to “the two-seater” outhouse. Nearby, there was a large elevated wooden cistern which caught rain water…and sometimes also provided a swimming pool for the Lighthouse children.
H - The Legacy Oak Tree
Take a moment to stop on our shaded porch to appreciate our lovely “Legacy Oak Tree.” Transplanted from Whale Island by Keeper Charles O. Fine in 1892, she has stood watch beside the Historic St. Marks Lighthouse for more than 130 years. And, she will be waiting to welcome you back whenever you stop by again for a visit.
* This guide is available in hard copy as a brochure in the Lighthouse
It was created by Connie Clineman and Rita LeBlanc