The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum recently broke ground on a new Maritime & Archaeology Education Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will include an artifact conservation lab, a public exhibit and education space, and offices for the museum’s archaeology program.
The new building will allow the museum’s Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) to move out of a World War II-era U.S. Coast Guard barracks at the light station so that the 1940s structure can be restored and turned into exhibit space.
“This new building is going to be an excellent asset not just for our museum, but for the community as a whole,” Executive Director Kathy A. Fleming said. “The handicap accessible education space and room for archaeological research will help us continue to discover St. Augustine’s maritime past and share it with future generations through new exhibits and educational programs.”
The groundbreaking ceremony, which took place Aug. 16., was attended by St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver, State Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, representatives from the office of Sen. Marco Rubio, and building architect Steven Schuyler. In addition to Fleming, Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Capt. Bob Buehn, retired U.S. Navy, spoke to the assembled crowd about the decade of planning that went into the new 2,500 square foot facility.
Funds for the project were raised through the nonprofit museum’s most recent capital campaign as well as the State of Florida, which provided a $150,000 cultural facilities grant to use toward the building.
To date, the museum’s capital campaign has raised more than $2.4 million for restoration, programs and exhibits, of which approximately $863,260 is earmarked specifically for the new building. This includes provisions for an X-ray room, where archaeologists can see inside concreted shipwreck artifacts to determine the best course of conservation and space for restoring these artifacts.
A number of private donors contributed to the research center as well, including The Lastinger Family Foundation, Gasper and Irene Lazzara, Jerry and Janet Carlisle, LTC Lee McConkey, The PGA Tour, Inc., Trustee Emeritus Judy Burnett Albright, Charles Cox, and Wright Timothy Jackson. The museum still needs approximately $130,000 to complete the campaign.