Reprint – Christmas Tree Lighthouse

Reprint – Christmas Tree Lighthouse

Do you want to save a lighthouse? Do you like lighthouse Christmas ornaments? This article might appeal to you. It appeals to me because it is another way to raise money to save a lighthouse. If you look on this website, there are many more ideas too.


Christmas tree lighthouse

Reprinted with permission from Tim Croft of The Star

First published July 26, 2012 11:58 AM

Lighthouse ornament

The St. Joseph Historical Society (Port St. Joe, Florida) is encouraging folks to put a touch of lighthouse under the Christmas tree this year.

As part of a fund-raising effort in its quest to save the Cape San Blas Lighthouse from the wrath of Mother Nature, the Historical Society is selling a gorgeous brass-and-silver colored replica of the lighthouse in the form of a Christmas ornament.

Cape Blas lighthouse

Each ornament costs the Historical Society $10 – Cape San Blas Lighthouse is emblazoned across the top-front of the ornament, St Joseph Historical Society on the lower back – to produce.

Members of the SJBHS are selling each ornament for $20, with the other $10 going directly toward the fundraising pot to save the lighthouse.

The cost of saving the lighthouse and moving it to the George Core Park in Port St. Joe is estimated at over $325,000. As of this week, the amount raised is just north of $31,000.

The ornaments are available at the Cape San Blas Lighthouse Gift Shop, Portside Trading and Joseph’s Cottage.

Among the first to receive an ornament was Wanda Mayo, the District IV President of the Florida Lighthouse Association. Mayo was in town for a couple of days to visit, see the lighthouse and formally present the St. Joseph Historical Society with a check for $25,000, the first large donation made to save the lighthouse.

The board of the Florida Lighthouse Association approved the donation during their meeting in June.

“We are interested to see the progress,” Mayo said of her visit. “This is a nationally-newsworthy project. This has the potential to really draw people here.”

The Cape San Blas Lighthouse and gift shop was visited by tens of thousands in the past couple of years despite its somewhat-off-the-beaten-path location and tight budget.

The lighthouse was part of a recent Florida Lighthouse Challenge and attracts hundreds each month during the cooler season with full-moon climbs. During the Lighthouse Challenge, one lucky couple enjoyed a weekend stay at the refurbished keepers’ quarters and wrote a glowing letter about their stay – with a tone of alarm about the erosion.

The erosion has begun to encroach on the lone entrance road to the lighthouse and grounds and waves have over the years pushed the coastline back hundreds of yards.

That threat prompted the magazine Lighthouse Digest: The World’s Lighthouse Keeper to place the Cape San Blas Lighthouse on its “Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses”, one of 50 lighthouses on the list, from California to New York.

In an article by Timothy Harrison, the extent and threat of the erosion, as well as some of the history of the lighthouse is explored.

Harrison details prior threats from erosion, and the moving of the lighthouse, through the centuries and also recalls the infamous murder case involving assistant keeper Ernest Marler, a homicide that was never solved, save in fiction books.

The article also details the many families that thrived as keepers of the light and that the primary hope for its survival from its current plight is by moving or erosion controls that are not likely to be approved because the land is within the Coastal Barriers Resource Act (CBRA) zone.

“The lighthouse was built with taxpayer money and today is a vital historic landmark that is essential to Florida’s Panhandle area,” Harrison writes in summary.

“However, it will take an immense amount of money to move the lighthouse or change the legislation that would allow erosion controls to be put into place. Regardless of what happens, some of the money needed to save the Cape San Blas Lighthouse will need to come through private donations.”

Harrison notes a sign on the front window of the gift shop, “Move it or Lose it.”

“The Doomsday Clock is ticking …,” Harrison writes. “In the case of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, the clock may be running fast.”

The article is accompanied by another written by Dawn Evans Radford, the granddaughter of the one of the lighthouse keepers.

“This is an intimidating project,” said Mayo after her tour of the grounds and lighthouse.

To which Charlotte Pierce, president of the SJHS, replied, “It is but we will get there.”

To learn about the effort to save the Cape San Blas Lighthouse or to donate, visit www.capesanblaslight.org.

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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