Jupiter proposing a $17,000 donation toward lighthouse repairs


Tourists are drawn to Jupiter lighthouse, say supporters

Lighthouse built in 1860 needs regular repairs

A donation from Jupiter to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse of $17,000 — bringing the total this year to $22,000 — is scheduled for a vote at Tuesday’s town council meeting.

The contributions would go toward about $150,000 in renovations being done on the lighthouse, first lit in 1860. The work includes painting, roof repairs, structural improvements and updates to the Fresnel lenses that refract light from the top of the 108-foot lighthouse.

The light is dark during construction. Tours to climb the 105 steps to the top of the lighthouse are suspended until the work is done. The lighthouse museum is open during construction.

Reopening of the lighthouse is scheduled for the end of May or early June.

The investment is worthwhile to Jupiter residents, said Jamie Stuve, the president and CEO of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, which oversees and maintains the lighthouse, museum and other historical buildings on the north side of the Jupiter Inlet.

The lighthouse and museum annually draw about 80,000 people — about half from outside Florida — who stay at local hotels, rent watercraft, shop at stores and eat at restaurants. The lighthouse, the town’s logo, is on some Jupiter town vehicles and business cards of town officials.

“The lighthouse is the identity of the town. It binds the community,” said Stuve.

The town council approved awarding $5,000 for lighthouse repairs on April 20.

Preventing more damage before hurricane season begins June 1 is why the work is being done now, said Kathleen Glover, assistant director of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.

“Water intrusion is a huge problem. That’s the urgency in getting the work done now. We can’t wait,” said Glover.

During the repairs, visitors can view the exhibit Keeping the Light at Jupiter Inlet: Adventures in the Lives of Lighthouse Keepers, in the Lighthouse Keepers Workshop. Admission prices are reduced during the restoration.

Closing the lighthouse, which is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the museum, is not unusual. There was a 16-day shutdown last year for repairs. The museum is required to maintain the lighthouse.

The Loxahatchee River Historical Society has been awarded grants and donations toward the $152,000 project. These include $40,000 from the Bureau of Land Management, $25,400 from the Loxahatchee Guild, $6,000 from individual donations and a pending $30,000 grant from the Florida Lighthouse Association.

For information, contact Belle Forino, development director, at 561-747-8380, ext. 107 or go to jupiterlighthouse.org.

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