|Photo by Lauren Pitone|
Located in the island city of Key West at the southern tip of Florida, the lighthouse replaced an earlier structure that was demolished in the Great Hurricane of 1846. A number of people had taken shelter in the original tower, hoping that its strong brick walls would protect them from the wind and waves of the storm. When it collapsed, fourteen people died, including six children of lighthouse keeper Barbara Mabrity.
Despite the tragedy, Mabrity stayed on to serve as keeper of the new lighthouse when it was completed in 1849. She remained on the job until the Civil War, when at the age of 82 her anti-Union statements caused her to lose her federal job.
The lighthouse was heightened to 86 feet, its present height, during the 1890s and remained in use until it was deactivated in 1969. Now operated by the Key West Art & Historical Society, it has been beautifully restored and is open to the public.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/keywestlighthouse.