Digest>Archives> April 2003

Ponce Inlet's Lenses to Shine Again

By Jeremy D'Entremont


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Photo courtesy of Ponce deLeon Inlet Lighthouse ...

The Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station on Florida’s central east coast, one of the most complete light stations in the nation, draws more than 125,000 visitors per year. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998, the station consists of a 176-foot tower (the nation’s second tallest brick lighthouse), three keepers’ dwellings, an oil house, pump house, and three other outbuildings. The lighthouse tower recently underwent major renovations, and the nonprofit Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, Inc. is now in the midst of a highly ambitious lens restoration project that will add new luster to the site.

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Photo courtesy of Ponce deLeon Inlet Lighthouse ...

The third order Fresnel lens that operated in the tower from 1933 to 1970 is being cleaned and renovated with plans to put it back into service in the lighthouse this summer.

But that’s not all.

A magnificent first order lens made in Paris was installed in the lighthouse when it went into service in 1887. That lens was thought to be lost for a number of years, but it was miraculously discovered in storage about five years ago at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum. “There is no other more relevant artifact to that light station than this lens,” lighthouse director of operations Don Hampton told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “The whole reason for the light station was to illuminate the lens.”

Now back in its rightful home, the lens will be reassembled and restored by museum staff and eventually put on display. The workers are treating the lens pieces with the utmost respect, as each of the 15 bronze panels and the prisms they hold are valued at approximately $100,000.

This story appeared in the April 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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