The lighthouse was originally built in 1824 and it was originally owned by Dr. Allan Ballard. He sold the lighthouse to the government in 1865. It was sold because he thought the ocean would swallow it. Florida’s money were depleted after the Civil War and they offered to buy the lighthouse for significantly lower that its real value. Ballard refused the offer and the state threatened to take the lighthouse from Ballard without giving him anything. Ballard was outraged and vowed never to leave the lighthouse and a lot of people say that is exactly what he did. He can be seen in the property.
The lighthouse keeper named Peter Rasmussen was someone who always enjoyed smoking cigars. He was also known for being strict and meticulous. Today the scent of his cigar can be detected several times a week according to the people who are now working to preserve the lighthouse.
However, it is believed that it is not only Rasmussen who is the smoke loving entity in the lighthouse. Some say that Joseph Andreau, another keeper who died in the 1850s, also loves to smoke. Many people believe that the footsteps on the stairs, as well as the cigar smoke, are from him. He died when he fell while painting the tower.
The most popular ghosts in the lighthouse are those of the 13-year old and 15-year old daughters of Hezekiah Pity or Pittee. Pity was commissioned to renovate the lighthouse and he brought his family down with him from Maine. One day, his two young daughters were playing around the grounds an despite their father’s warning, climbed in the cart which was used to carry building materials from the bay to the lighthouse.
Both of the girls drowned when the cart broke loose and slid down into the bay. When you visit the lighthouse today, you just might hear the two little girls laughing late into the night. The elder Pity girl can be seen wearing her favorite blue velvet dress and blue hair bow.
Standing at the north end of Anastasia Island, St. Augustine Lighthouse is now owned by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Inc. It is now open to the public with admission fees going to the Lighthouse fund programs.
According to the lighthouse, St. Augustine was built and placed on the same spot where a watchtower as also built by the Spanish. Early lamps which were used in the tower used lard oil. By 1855, multiple lamps had silver reflectors which improved the range of the lighthouse.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Paul Arnau and a woman named Maria de los Delores removed the lens in the lighthouse and hid it. This was done in order to block Union shipping lanes. The clock works and lens were recovered Arnau was captured and forced to reveal their location.
Today the lighthouse consists of the original tower, the keeper’s house, a garage, two summer kitchens and a coast guard barracks. It is also listed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.