Historic City News local reporters were invited to share in the groundbreaking ceremonies this afternoon when the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum announced construction of a new facility that will provide a permanent, handicap-accessible home for maritime research and education programs.
With 450 years of maritime history sitting off St. Augustine’s shores awaiting discovery, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is looking toward the future for space to save the past. Through funds raised in the nonprofit museum’s most recent capital campaign, as well as a grant from the State of Florida, the Lighthouse broke ground on a new Maritime Archaeology & Education Center today.
“This new building is going to be an excellent asset not just for our Museum, but for the community as a whole,” said Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming. “The handicap accessible education space and room for archaeological research will help us continue to discover St. Augustine’s maritime past and share it with future generations through new exhibits and educational programs.”
Guests at the ceremony included St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, State Representative Cyndi Stevenson, representatives from the office of Senator Marco Rubio, and building architect Steven Schuyler. Along with Fleming, Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Capt. Bob Buehn, U.S. Navy retired, spoke to the assembled crowd about the decade of planning that has gone into this new state-of-the-art facility.
The 2,500 square foot structure will include an artifact conservation lab, offices for the Museum’s archaeology program and handicap accessible public exhibit and education space. This will allow for the Museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program to move out of the World War II-era U.S. Coast Guard Barracks at the Light Station so that the 1940’s structure can be restored and turned into exhibit space.
To date, the Museum’s capital campaign has raised over $2.4 million for restoration, programs, and exhibits, of which approximately $863,260 is earmarked specifically for the new building. This includes provisions for an X-ray room where archaeologists can see inside concreted shipwreck artifacts to determine the best course of conservation and space for restoring these artifacts. Additionally, the facility will provide a much-needed indoor area for the Museum’s educational programs that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This project is also sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Department of Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. The State provided the Museum with a $150,000 cultural facilities grant to use toward the building. Additional federal grant support was provided by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
A number of private donors contributed to the research center as well, including The Lastinger Family Foundation, Gasper and Irene Lazzara, Jerry and Janet Carlisle, LTC Lee McConkey, The PGA Tour, Inc., Trustee Emeritus Judy Burnett Albright, Charles Cox, and Wright Timothy Jackson.
The Museum still needs approximately $130,000 to complete the campaign. Donors can become part of the Lighthouse Legacy through one of several naming opportunities still available. More information can be found online at staugustinelighthouse.org.