St. Augustine Lighthouse’s
- The spirit of a light keeper who reportedly fell from the tower can now be seen at the top
- Unexplained cigar smells are reported from visitors in the keeper's house and tower
- The spirits of two girls, daughters of a light keeper, are known to play jokes on visitors
- Visitors have often reported the presence of children in the basement
- The spirits of the two girls are said to appear as apparitions to people who sleep in the keeper's house
St. Augustine Lighthouse’s
St. Augustine, Florida has no shortage of strange historical sites. From the reported site of Ponce De Leon’s landing in the Americas to a museum of medieval torture, St. Augustine seems to relish anything that is equal parts historically significant and significantly odd. And, across the Bridge of Lions on nearby Anastasia Island, the story is no different.
There, the St. Augustine Lighthouse’s stark, black-and-white barber pole spiral has stood dutifully since 1874 and continues to operate still today. But, after almost a century and a half of lighting the way for ships coming in and out of harbor, stories now swirl about ghosts that linger in the old light tower.
Timeline of St. Augustine Lighthouse's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see St. Augustine Lighthouse through the years
Founded in 1565, the city of St. Augustine predates almost every other colonial relic by centuries. St. Augustine was also the site of the first lighthouse established by the new territorial US government. Erected in 1824, this 52 foot stone light served the St. Augustine shores for several decades.Then, in deference to years of beach erosion, a modern lighthouse on Anastasia Island was ordered. The new lighthouse was first lit in 1874. Six years later, the original light succumbed to erosion and tumbled into the ocean.
This new, 165-foot tall lighthouse was lit first by keeper William Russell, who is the only keeper to have managed both the old and new lighthouses on the island. Shortly after, management of the lighthouse was taken by William Harn, a Union Army Civil War hero who served as the light keeper at St. Augustine until his death. Harn and his family were known for their hospitality, with his daughters frequently hosting lemonade stands from the porch of the light keeper’s house, which was built during Harn’s tenure.
Over the decades that followed, the city grew and thrived with the advent of steam shipping and expansion of national rail networks. As more steamships made the trip into the region’s harbors, the St. Augustine Lighthouse became a critical navigational tool. But soon, war would turn the tides on the lighthouse.
In April, 1941, the SS Gulfamerica was sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. In attempts to prevent the enemy from seeing coastal targets, light was rationed. Blackout curtains were required; headlights were banned; and the St. Augustine Lighthouse was dimmed as much as it could be. After German spies made landfall in the area and were swiftly caught, the Floridian coast went into lockdown. Soldiers manned the lighthouse 24/7 to watch the sea for U-Boats until the end of the war.
After World War II, the lighthouse lived a quiet existence until being fully automated in 1955. No longer needing to house keepers or their families, the light keeper’s house was rented to local residents until it was gutted by a fire in 1980. In order to protect its future and history the Junior Service League of St. Augustine signed a 99-year lease for the building and the land surrounding the lighthouse, with plans for a grand renovation.
Over the next 15 years, the group raised millions of dollars and renovated the lighthouse, the keeper’s house, and the land around it. In 1994, the Lighthouse Museum of St. Augustine opened to the public for the first time. Itt continues to provide educational tours to the public today as the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. Now, the historical complex includes the lighthouse, the restored keeper’s house, an old Coast Guard barracks, and a 1936 garage used as a Jeep repair facility during World War II.
Is St. Augustine Lighthouse Haunted?
While members of the public frequently visit the museum to learn about the lighthouse and local history, many visitors claim that some historical figures still live and work in the lighthouse, and many have reportedly encountered these phantoms going about their lives throughout the lighthouse complex.
The Pittee Phantoms of St. Augustine Lighthouse
The two lost Pittee daughters are some of the most frequently encountered spirits on the property.
Visitors often report the girls play pranks on them, like coaxing visitors up-and-down the tower with sounds of giggling and footsteps, only to keep them going up-and-down chasing these sounds for as long as possible. Others ascend the lighthouse steps only to pause and find their shoelaces tied to the steps by these spectral pranksters.
St. Augustine Lighthouse’s Haunted Keeper’s House
The girls are also frequently seen and heard in the keeper’s house, with a former renter of the building reporting he would wake up at night to the apparition of a young girl in his room, only to see her disappear instantly.
Visitors today say they can often feel the presence of children in the basement of the home especially. Some attribute this to the fact that the basement was the only part of the home to survive the 1980 fire.