Spanish Watchtower

The Oldest City: St. Augustine Saga of Survival
St. Augustine's Pictures of the Past: The Second Discovery
Picture of Foundation of Original Watchtower/Lighthouse [1]
Picture of Foundation of Original Watchtower/Lighthouse [2]
St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties
Picture of the St. Augustine Lighthouse

Dublin Core



The Americans


Spanish Watchtower

Alternative Title

St. Augustine Lighthouse
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum

Date Created


Date Modified



Originally called a watchtower, this structure was a lighthouse used to warn ships of dangerous waters.

Is Replaced By

The original tower can only be seen at low tide, but the new tower is open to visitors.


Before the construction of the lighthouse, there were a series of wooden watchtowers in the area. The earliest reference to watchtowers dates back to 1589 on a map depicting the raid on St. Augustine by Sir Francis Drake.

In 1737 the Spanish replaced the most recent of the wooden watchtowers with a new watchtower made of coquina that was 30 feet tall. In 1763 Florida came under British rule after the French and Indians War. The British built an additional 30 feet onto the Spanish watchtower by building a wooden extension. It became a true lighthouse during this time.

In 1783 Florida was returned to the Spanish and they removed the wooden extension on the tower that the British constructed. After St. Augustine became part of the Florida Territory, the Americans lighted  the watchtower with lamps and reflectors. These was not visible at sea, so in 1852 the tower was raised by 10 feet. In 1853 it received a fourth order Fresnel Lens. It was powered by an oil lamp that used whale oil. During the American Civil War the lens was removed and hidden to make it harder for Union ships sailing nearby. Eventually the location of the lens was revealed and the tower was relit in 1867.

One resident of the old Spanish Watchtower and lighthouse keeper's home was local Minorcan, Maria Andreu. Her husband, Joseph Andreu, also a local Minorcan, was named lighthouse keeper in 1854, and more than likely she and her eight children helped care for the light and keeping it lit. Tragically in 1859, while whitewashing the now-60 foot high tower, Joseph Andreu slipped, fell, and died. Maria Andreu became the first lady lighthouse keeper in the U.S., serving in that position until 1862 when at age 61, she moved away from St. Augustine.

In 1871 it was becoming obvious that the old coquina tower was coming to an end due to erosion. Construction on a new lighthouse further inland was started in 1871 and finished in 1874. The lighthouse was lit for the first time on October 15, 1874 by William R. Russell with a light specially designed for this lighthouse.

Unused by 1970, twenty-four years of grassroot efforts were necessary to save the keeper's house. In 1991, the Coast Guard replaced the light with an airport beacon. And in 1994, the Maritime Museum was opened full-time. In 2017, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum joined the prestigious American Alliance of Museums.

Has Part

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is now part of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.


The Lighthouse is open to the public. For tour information please go here:

Rights Holder

100 Red Cox Dr.
St. Augustine, FL 32080


The following books, articles, websites, and photographers were used to find the above photographs or illustrations:

Photograph 1 (c.1850s-1871): Waterbury, Jean Parker, ed. The Oldest City: St. Augustine, Saga of Survival. St. Augustine, FL: St. Augustine Historical Society, 1983.

Photograph 2 (c.1890): Tellier, Mark. St. Augustine’s Pictures of the Past: The Second Discovery. 1st edition. [United States]: Mark Tellier, 1979.

Photograph 3 (2023): Augusty, Jean-Marc. "Picture of Foundation of Original Watchtower/Lighthouse [1]." February 25, 2023.

Photograph 4 (2023): Augusty, Jean-Marc. "Picture of Foundation of Original Watchtower/Lighthouse [2]." February 25, 2023.

Photograph 5 (c.1920s): Bowen, Beth Rogero, and the St. Augustine Historical Society. St. Augustine in the Roaring Twenties. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing, 2012.

Photograph 6 (2023): Augusty, Jean-Marc. "Picture of the St. Augustine Lighthouse." March 5, 2023.

The following books, articles, and/or websites were used to find information about this location:

Harvey, Karen. Daring Daughters: St. Augustine's Feisty Females, 1565-2000. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company, 2002.

"History." St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. 2023.


Flagler College Special Collections is neither the original nor current copyright owner for the photographs. Please contact the publisher or source cited for each photograph to obtain a copy and/or permission to reproduce these items.

Date Submitted

This record was last updated on March 29, 2023.


The Spanish, “Spanish Watchtower,” St. Augustine Fiction, accessed June 13, 2024,