CAPE CANAVERAL LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
CAPE CANAVERAL LIGHTHOUSE FOUNDATION’S MISSION AND GOAL
BRIEF LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY: The lighthouse at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is distinct among lighthouses in the nation because it sits on land that is the oldest mapped location in the United States. The name Cape Canaveral is the only location that is named on maps dating back to 1500. The first lighthouse on Cape Canaveral was completed in 1848. Due to the limited distance of the light, a second lighthouse was constructed in 1868. Between 1893-1894, it was moved due to erosion and it now stands about one mile inland form the Eastern tip of the Cape. This lighthouse is also extraordinary because it is within sight of all missile launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
FOUNDATION’S MISSION: The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation (CCLF) is dedicated to promoting access to the lighthouse and providing the public with the knowledge and history of what is certainly one of the most unique lighthouses in the United States.
FOUNDATION’S GOAL: The Foundation is currently raising funds to rebuild the three Keepers’ Cottages to complete the historical integrity of the original configuration of buildings which surrounded the lighthouse. The lighthouse keepers’ homes were destroyed after 76 years of existence.
The lighthouse is owned and maintained by the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB. The beacon that serves as a navigational aid is operated by the United States Coast Guard and CCLF volunteers assist with keeping the beacon shining.
The Replica Cottage will have period furniture and depict the everyday lives of the keepers. The Lighthouse Keepers’ homes have been researched for authenticity and the 1942 plans (received from the U.S. Coast Guard) have been duplicated. The homes will showcase how the keepers and their families lived during their assignment at the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.
The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation has architectural and engineering drawings ready to be used for construction. Reconstructing the lighthouse community will benefit Florida’s Historical Preservation Office, certain Indian tribes and our Nation, by providing ongoing, long-term preservation and educational activities, and reconstructing historically important lighthouse support buildings. The memory and dignity of culturally and historically important grounds will be maintained by the Foundation.
The Education Center will be staffed by experienced volunteers who will focus on a broad range of topics such as lighthouse keepers, Fresnel lens, Native Americans, citrus industry, maritime history and space program. The story of the lighthouse is a compelling one. It includes the depiction of men and women who lived at a time when keeping a signal in the form of a beam of light was critical in order to warn of the danger of treacherous shoals along the coastline. Therefore, the Foundation envisions an educational center to be constructed onsite that would enable the telling of the story of the courageous keepers of the light who kept the lamp lit often under arduous conditions. The history of the lighthouse and its keepers is not the only chronicle of Cape Canaveral that needs to be told. The early settlers and pioneers at the Cape are part of a unique tale that is an essential part of the legend of the lighthouse. Another accounting for future generations is the diverse and delicate ecosystem that begs to be told.
The curriculum is being developed for school children to learn the importance of lighthouses and their historical significance. The lives of the lighthouse keepers who saved countless mariners by ensuring they were guided to safe water– and not wrecked on shoals near shorelines– will be told. The history of the Native Americans, who were on the grounds centuries before the lighthouse, will be emphasized.
The third cottage will be designated as a Museum – Archaeology Center, which will display artifacts and house interactive exhibits and will be staffed by experienced personnel.
The following requirements were completed in order to obtain the license to build on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: environmental assessment, environmental baseline survey, soil exploration and geotechnical engineering, topographic survey, boundary survey and legal description and sketch. Funds to complete these requirements were raised from proposals submitted by, and grants subsequently awarded to, the CCLF. The building license issued by the U.S. Air Force was granted in 2015 to CCLF to begin construction. The Foundation has partnered with the Hensel Phelps Company who will manage construction of the project.
The local community has shown its support through purchasing bricks for the walkway, participating in events held on the lighthouse grounds, joining the Foundation through memberships, and volunteering as tour guides, docents and retail clerks in the Keepers’ Closet gift shop. By rebuilding the Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottages, future generations will have the opportunity to understand the importance of the role that the lighthouse played in the safety of maritime travel on the Eastern seashore, as well as in the history of Florida.