During this morning’s meeting of the St Johns County Commission, an agreement was reached on the sale of several acres of maritime hammock nature trails, the 1876 historic keepers’ house and two Victorian-era summer kitchens as well as a garage and U.S. Coast Guard barracks from the WWII period that surround the St Augustine Lighthouse.
Although the local non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, Inc. has owned the lighthouse tower and lens for the past twelve years, the appurtenant buildings and property has been leased from St Johns County as part of a long-term lease; the balance of which will be cancelled.
“We will continue to be good to our neighbors, and to work toward our mission of public service, historic preservation and authentic, local history,” Kathy Fleming, the museum’s executive director said as she thanked the Board for approving the sale.
The purchase amount was agreed to be $150,000 and the sale will close as soon as possible after the deed and its restrictions can be prepared. The transfer of ownership does include a reverter clause that returns ownership of the property and buildings to the county should the museum stop fulfilling its historic preservation and educational mission.
That’s not likely to happen. Since the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, Inc. split away from the Junior Service League of St Augustine and incorporated in 1998, they estimate that they have invested, with the county, over a million dollars in rehabilitation. Prior to that time, during the fourteen-year period between 1980 and 1994, the Junior Service League reports raising $1.5 million dollars that paid for restoration of the buildings which they have been leasing.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to secure the future of the museum for our community and to honor the restoration work done by the Junior Service League,” Theresa Floyd, chairperson of the museum’s Board of Trustees, said to the Board from the podium. “We look forward to serving the community for many years to come, as this purchase ensures that we can continue to keep the museum open to the public for our future generations.”