Fresnel Lens Restoration
Pensacola Lighthouse Association, Inc. dba Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum
In 2006, Dianne Levi, concerned with the dilapidated condition of the Lighthouse and the Coast Guard’s inability to repair and maintain the historic structure, founded the nonprofit Pensacola Lighthouse Association, also known as the Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum (the PLM). Mrs. Levi gathered a small group of the loosely affiliated Naval Air Station Historical Society and set out to found a preservation organization to restore and open the Lighthouse. The mission of PLM is preserving the past to enlighten the future. Restoration efforts have been ongoing for four years, and will be complete in 2017. With the completion of the restoration, the Lighthouse tower and Keeper’s quarters will be fully restored, securing the future of the Lighthouse as a navigational aid and museum. The PLM is open daily for guests to explore the museum and climb the lighthouse tower. Annual events include the Halloween Haunted House, Halloween Spooktacular and the Christmas Gala. The Lighthouse is also a venue for special events such as weddings, reunions and reenlistment ceremonies and it hosts thousands of school-aged children each year for field trips and educational experiences.
Funds are being requested for extensive repairs of the historic, First Order Fresnel Lens, a compact lens used in lighthouses. The lens is one of a diminishing number of operating Fresnel lenses in the United States, and unique because it is the only First Order lens remaining under control of the U. S. Coast Guard in Florida. Originally installed in 1858, the 6,000 lb. lens has safely guided mariners along the Gulf of Mexico and into its ports, with the exception of a brief period of darkness during the Civil War. IMPACT 100 funds would be used to pay for consultants and labor for the restoration. Crews will mobilized in August 2018 and the lens room of the tower will be closed to the public for the duration of the work, so that the crew can expedite the process. Treatment of the lens will be completed to stabilize the deteriorated and damaged elements using approved conservation practices and materials, without causing adverse effects to the existing fabric of the lens. Work should be completed by October 1, 2018, and the lens room will be reopened to guests of PLM. The completion of the lens restoration will be the capstone of the restoration project for Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum.
The PLM has supported the growth and development of the greater Pensacola Bay area since the Lighthouse was first lit on New Year’s Day of 1859. Today the Lighthouse still serves Pensacola not only as an active aid to navigation, but also as an educational institution, and an economic engine for local tourism. This project, together with all efforts to preserve and rehabilitate the lighthouse grounds, allows the site to reach its full potential as a historic tourism attraction. Its existence as such is a boon to the local and state economies. Not only do historic attractions such as this generate tax revenue, but they also add one more night to out-of-state visitors' trips, on average. These visitors stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and enjoy other attractions and amenities in the Pensacola area, thus bringing a more positive and direct economic impact to the local economy. The Lighthouse has served as host for a number of local conferences in recent years (such as those for the Florida Lighthouse Association and the Florida Association of Museums). These events attract visitors from all over the state who will act, and spend, as tourists to Pensacola and surrounding area. This preservation project will be documented as it progresses and will be used as an opportunity to teach guests about the logistics and importance of restoration and preservation of historic sites. The function of the lens is a key element of education efforts and serves as a focal point for a number of historical and scientific lessons, and is integrated into one of PLM’s main exhibits “Science of Light”, to teach principles of refraction and reflection.