Historic Markers Across Georgia

Keepers of the Light

Marker ID:  
Location: 101 12th Street, Saint Simons Island, GA
County: Glynn
Coordinates: N 31° 8.026    W 081° 23.603
  31.13376666    -81.39338333
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMGRC4
Keepers of the Light Marker  


The present lighthouse was commissioned by the U.S. Government in 1867 to be built adjacent to the site of the 1810 tower. The 104' tower and keeper's dwelling were designed by the noted architect Charles Clusky. Clusky and several of his crew members died of malaria during construction. The light and dwelling were completed in 1872.

The Lighthouse and Keeper's Dwelling Today
The lighthouse tower is of brick construction. Cylindrical in shape, it has a 129-step cast-iron spiral staircase. The foundation is 8' below ground, 30' in diameter, and 3' thick. In 1890, the fireproof oil house was constructed. The oil house was designed to hold 450 5-gallon containers of kerosene to light the lamp in the lantern room. Later, large oil drums were installed in the oil house to contain the fuel.

The Keepers Life
Several lighthouse keepers, such as C.O. Svendsen ( to your left), and their assistants did duty at this station. Often, the keeper's wife served as his assistant keeper. The lighthouse was completely automated in 1953.

The early lives' of the keepers were lonely and monotonous. The Keeper's main task was to keep the light burning from sunset to sunrise. In addition, he was responsible for routine maintenance of the lens, buildings such as barns, boat houses, residence, and grounds.
The pay was $400 to $600 per year in the 19th Century. The highly prized position required the Keeper to be able to read and write, and sons often followed fathers and grandfathers footsteps into the United States Lighthouse Service.

Erected by Coastal Georgia Historical Society.


Keepers of the Light