Gaines Group Architects

5. Lighthouses #105architecturalinspiration

One of the first known lighthouses was built in Alexandria, Egypt marking the entrance to the city’s harbor in 285 BC. Lighthouses at this time were harbor lights serving as homing beacons to bring ships safely into port. As sea traffic increased in the 17th century lighthouses were constructed to warn ships of dangerous reefs, rocks, and currents. The first documented lighthouse in America was the Boston Light, built in 1716 at Boston Harbor.


The Sanibel Island Light is the first lighthouse on Florida’s Gulf coast north of Key West. Located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, the foundation was completed in 1884. The lighthouse grounds are open to the public, but the lighthouse itself is not.


As you might imagine, Key West has had several lighthouses destroyed by Hurricanes. The current Key West Light stands 100′ tall and was built in 1848 and raised to the current height in 1894. 


Ocracoke Light was built in 1823. The lighthouse is 75′ tall. This is the oldest operating light station in North Carolina. It was automated in 1955.


Currituck Beach Lighthouse is my favorite as you can climb all the way to the top of the 162′ tower and look out over the outer banks. The lighthouse was built from 1872-1875.


Bodie Island Lighthouse is 156′ tall and still shines a beam 19 miles offshore. This lighthouse was the third version constructed and was fully operational in 1872.


The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse looks like a black and white candy-cane and is certainly one of the most famous lighthouses in the world. At 208′ tall this lighthouse was lit in late 1870 after shorter versions proved to be ineffective. The most incredible story of this lighthouse is they had to move it 2,900′ inland due to beach erosion in 1999.

Folly lighthouse(bw)

The Morris Island Light is in South Carolina. Standing at the southern side of the entrance to Charleston Harbor, north of the city of Folly Beach, was constructed in 1876. Originally constructed some 1,200′ from the water’s edge, the lighthouse now stands surrounded by water. This picture was taken on my first trip to Folly Beach at least 17 years ago and started my fascination with lighthouses.

#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian