"Celebrating 150+ Years"
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, originally
commissioned by the U.S. Government in the 1850's, sits on land that was secured by the U.S. Military after the
Second Seminole Indian War. The lighthouse was constructed on top of a 48 foot Native
American shell mound; the lighthouse tower rises another 108 feet above the mound for a total of 156 feet
above sea level. Its beacon can be seen 18 - 24 miles offshore, depending on weather conditions.
The historical timeline below is a brief summary of the Jupiter Inlet
Lighthouse and its colorful past. If you have the opportunity, we highly recommend that you visit the Jupiter
Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, as there is nothing like climbing the 105 cast iron stairs to the top of a historic
structure like this first hand. There are many books and web sites that go into much greater detail and
description. Many of these books will be available for purchase on our website.
1838 - The U.S. Army built the Fort Jupiter Reservation after the Battle of the
Loxahatchee. This reservation included the existing Lighthouse land.
1853 - Congress approves $35,000 for construction of the Jupiter Lighthouse. After delays,
the total cost ended up being $60,859.98.
1854 - President Franklin Pierce signed the order to obtain 61.5 acres of land for the
Jupiter Lighthouse project. The lighthouse was designed by Lieutenant George Meade.
1855 - Construction begins at the Jupiter Lighthouse site. At this time the mouth of the
Jupiter Inlet closed due to storms and shifting sand.
1856 - Construction stopped on the Lighthouse for over two years due to Seminole Indian
attacks, heat, mosquitos, and a plague known at the time as "Jupiter Fever".
1859 - The first Lighthouse Keeper's house was constructed next to the lighthouse. It was
only 30' x 26' and supported the Head Keeper along with two Assistant Keepers as well as their families.
1860 - The Jupiter Inlet lighthouse was built in approximately six months. The lighthouse
was lit for the
very first time on July 10, 1860. Captain James Armour was the first lighthouse keeper. He lived in quarters next
to the lighthouse with his family.
1861 - The Jupiter Lighthouse went dark during the Civil War, after Confederates seized a
crucial part and hid it in the woods by a creek.
1865 - Hurricane.
1866 - After several years of darkness, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was repaired, re-lit,
1875 - A new kitchen building was added to the Keepers' House to replace the outdoor
kitchen used since 1860.
1883 - A new two-story home was built to house the two Assistant Keepers and their
families. The original Keepers' House was renovated for the Head Keeper.
1886 - The original lard oil used to fuel the lighthouse was replaced by kerosine.
1905 - The U.S. Navy constructed a radio station on the lighthouse reservation.
1910 - The lighthouse was painted red. The original natural brick color had to be sealed
with paint to avoid dampness within the tower.
1927 - The original Keepers' House was destroyed by a fire.
1928 - The lighthouse was converted from the original oil lamps and internal weight
systems to electicity.
1928 - During the devistating "Hurricane of 1928", the lighthouse keeper had to quickly
convert the lighthouse back to oil and manually turn the light mechanism by hand due to the sudden loss of power.
It was said that the lighthouse swayed back and forth 17 inches during this intense storm, and one of the fresnel
lenses blew out.
1929 - The U.S. Navy established a monitoring station on the grounds to monitor aircraft
and ship-to-shore radio communications and distress calls. Also to broadcast local weather information.
1939 - The U.S. Coast Guard takes over control and maintenance of all lighthouses within
the United States.
1942 - The U.S. Marines came to the Lighthouse Reservation to help protect the Navy's
1959 - The Lighthouse Keepers' dwellings were demolished.
1962 - The U.S. Coast Guard installed a LORAN station and tower on the lighthouse grounds;
this was later moved North to Hobe Sound.
1973 - The U.S. Coast Guard begins a major renovation of the Jupiter Lighthouse.
1975 - The Jupiter Lighthouse is placed on the the National Register of Historic
1987 - The lighthouse was automated with a one-thousand watt electic bulb that can be seen
from up to 24 miles out to sea.
1994 - The Loxahatchee River Historical Society entered into an agreement with the U.S.
Coast Guard to maintain the Jupiter Lighthouse and to provide tours to the public.
1999 - Contractors worked for almost seven months to restore the lighthouse back to its
1860s standards using an $850,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to the Town of Jupiter.
2006 - The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum opened.
2008 - President George W. Bush signed a bill to protect the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse,
along with the surrounding 126 acres of land, as a federally designated "Outstanding Natural Area":
Bureau of Land
Mgmt: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Outstanding Natural Area
2009 - The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum opens a new permanent exhibit called "Five
Thousand Years on the Loxahatchee". This new exhibit filled eight rooms in the old 1939 U.S. Coast Guard building
that has since been taken over by the museum and a cafe.
2010 - The Jupiter Lighthouse celebrated its 150th anniversary on January 10, 2010. The
outside event was open to the public and included free museum and lighthouse tours, along with various
presentations. It was held on a cool, windy Sunday afternoon with local temperatures dipping into the 30's &
40's -- very cold for south Florida. The public celebration ceremony, was hosted by the Loxahatchee River
Historical Society, the Bureau of Land Management and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA)
Partners. On July 10, 2010, was the 150th anniversary celebration of the "lighting of the Jupiter
Inlet Lighthouse", which was first lighted on July 10, 1860.
2010 - The Loxahatchee River Historical Society received a $695,950 federal stimulus grant that
enabled it to restore & repaint the lighthouse. The restoration project also included the installation of
ramps and brick walks to make the grounds more accessible, the construction of a Seminole chickee, extensive
archeological digs and surveys, and the unearthing of the brick cistern from the original lighthouse keeper’s
house, which can now be viewed through Plexiglas panels in a deck that follows the outline of the house’s
2013 - After more than 120 years, the military’s round-the-clock presence at the Jupiter
Inlet begins fading into history this year. The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to take over the
property off U.S. 1, including the houses and the iconic red Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, that the Coast Guard has
owned since 1939. Congress designated the property in 2008 as the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural
Area, the only property with such a designation east of the Mississippi River. The bureau’s long-term goal is to
make the property into a historical, environmental and archaeological preserve.
Note: this page will be updated regularly as new events unfold. Anyone with comments or
suggestions may email us at: