Lighthouse, Key West
The same hurricane that destroyed the city's first cemetery in 1846 also destroyed Key West's first lighthouse, which had been built in 1825. A new one was built the following year, which makes it the 15th oldest lighthouse in the country. It remained in operation until 1969, first using oil lamps that required the keeper's constant care and attention, before being electrified in 1927. The lighthouse and keeper's quarters were converted into a museum in 1989, and it is now possible to climb the 88 steps that lead to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy a nice view of the island and surrounding sea (there are some panels that help visitors locate the island's major points of interest). The little museum located in the keeper's quarters gives some interesting insight into the life of a lighthouse keeper at the turn of the 20th century.
The Key West Lighthouse is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (Admission: $10.00).
Built in the late 1840s (after the original was destroyed in Great Havana Hurricane of 1846), the Key West Light stands 66 feet tall on land which is 15 feet above sea level. The lanterns were replaced in 1873 after being damaged in another hurricane, which added a further three feet to the height of the tower. With the advent of taller buildings in Key West, the tower was raised a further 20 feet in 1894, placing the light 100 feet above sea level.
The lighthouse had a keeper until 1969 when the Coast Guard decommissioning the light and turned it over to Monroe County, who in turn leased it to the Key West Arts and Historical Society who now operates the lighthouse and its building as a tourist attraction.
The lighthouse and keepers cottage is open daily from 09:30 to 17:00.
Adults - US$10
Students - US$5
Concessions - US$9
(Prices correct at October 2009)
The first Key West Light was built in 1825 and stood 65 feet tall, but was destroyed by the Great Havana Hurricane of 1846. A ship with a light temporarily replaced the important lighthouse until a permanent replacement could be completed in 1849. The new tower, which still stands today, was originally 66 feet tall, but heightened over the years to its current height of 86 feet. The light was decommissioned in 1969 and is now run by the Key West Arts and Historical Society as the Key West Light House and Keeper's Quarters Museum.
This lighthouse is located right across from the Hemingway house. The lighthouse is small, but still a good climb and there is a museum too. The costs is a little high.
Adult - $10
Child - $5
Seniors (62+) - $9
Under 6 - Free
AAA members and active duty military are free, but dependents pay regular
Hours are daily 9:30 - 4:30
the original historic key west lighthouse was built in 1847. a new lighthouse was built in 1886 and was 46 feet tall. in 1894 the lighthouse was extended to it's present 86 foot height. you can walk up 88 stairs to the top of the lighthouse for a nice view of downtown key west. next to the lighthouse is the 1886 lighthouse keepers house which is now a museum. an interesting historic structure to visit in key west.
***Free admission for military***
The lighthouse was built in 1847 to aid to ships navigating dangerous reefs off the lower Keys. That job is no longer needed, so the Key West Lighthouse now stands as a nice look out spot for tourists. It is 88 steps to the top, but worth the climb. You'll get a fantastic view of Key West and the surronding water.
Hemingway's House, which is right across the street, is more famous. But in all honesty, I enjoyed our visit to the Key West Lighthouse more. The view from the top is terrific, and the accompanying lighthouse keeper's home is a beautifully restored historic monument to the lighthouse keeper's family and time in Key West. It's all stained wood and delightfully creaky. And, on a June afternoon, it's also splendidly air-conditioned! (Let's hear it for progress) BTW, if you do climb the lighthouse, there are 88 steps up to the viewing area, and 10 more steps to the light. The last 10 are closed to the public.
The lighthouse itself was built in 1847, replacing an original wooden tower on Whitehead Point that had been destroyed the year before by a hurricane. (I guess in spite of not having global warming problems in the mid-19th century, they still had hurricanes). Originally built 66 feet high, it had an additional 20 feet added in 1894. The lighthouse served until being de-commissioned by the Coast Guard in 1969. The tower was restored in 1989 and is again functioning with a 175 watt metal halide light which can be seen several miles out at sea.
The lighthouse keeper's quarters were built in 1887, and presently houses the official lighthouse museum collection of artifacts, as well as the "maritime history of the Keys".
The lighthouse and museum are open 9:30 am - 5:00 pm daily. Like everything in Key West, the admission charge is $10 per adult.
One other little thing, stock up on bottles of cold ice water at the lighthouse. They sell them for a buck, the cheapest place anywhere. In the sweltering heat and humidity of Key West, you can suck down a fortune in water before you know it.
The Key West Lighthouse was the subject of my first oil painting. It was built inland (at 930 Whitehead St.) in 1847 because when it was at Whitehead point it kept being toppled by hurricanes. It was NOT built to foil the wreckers.
There is now a museum there. We didn't enter the museum until this year - first of all I didn't want to climb the 88 steps to the top. I don't do steps due to bad arthritis in my knees. When I did climb the tower (I just barely made it), I was looking for Fort Taylor, because I had seen a photo of Fort Taylor from the lighthouse at the East Martello Tower. I couldn't see it because I think it was taller when the picture was taken, and the trees have grown up since then too.
The first picture shows Hemingway House's wall in the lower right, and the Conch Train going down the street. You can also see a widow's walk, a church steeple and the Crowne Plaza La Concha one of the taller hotels on Duval Street.
I do not remember being able to climb the lighthouse in 1968, and I am almost positive that there was no museum there at that time. The restoration of the lighthouse (and painting it white) came about 20 years later.
We did find a post card with a photo of the lighthouse as it was before it was restored -- it looked just like it did in my painting. I was glad to find out I hadn't been halucinating. See the Intro for the comparison.
Admission $6 adults, $2 children 7-12, free for children 6 and under. Daily 9:30am5pm (last admission at 4:30pm). The admission also includes the lighthouse keeper museum which is quite interesting.
I originally wrote this as a General Tip, but I have made a 'Things To Do' tip too, although I don't really think it is a Must See. Actually I don't think there are many things in Key West that are MUST anything.
I love lighthouses. Its probably because I was raised just a few blocks from a lighthouse in my home town. So whenever I see a lighthouse I have to take a photo of it. The light house in Key West is very beautiful. You can go inside and climb to the top for a great view of Key West and the waterfront. The lighthouse is located just across the street from the Hemingway House and is on the highest point on the island.
We were told the bathroom in the Hemingway House was the room with a view. Its in the front of the house on the second floor and you can see the lighthouse and the water front from the bathroom. But thats not why its called the room with a view. If you go to the top of the lighthouse you can look over and see directly into the bathroom where Hemingways wife bathed. So the lighthouse keeper actually had the room with the view. This was one of many stories told to us while we toured the Hemingway House.
This 1847 structure, inland on a Key West street just across from the Hemingway House, affords visitors a bird’s-eye view of Key West from atop its 90-foot light tower. The lighthouse museum is open daily for self-guided tours from 9:30 AM to 5 PM. Admission for adults is $5
This lighthouse, built in 1847, has been converted to a museum after its decommissioning in 1969. The lighthouse and keeper's house have been restored to original condition.
We took a walk up the lighthouse and looked around. It was very peaceful. Only cost us $3 to walk up so why not?