Fort St. Simons was the first structure to occupy this land, although an earlier fort (Delegal's) existed in the area. Fort St. Simons was built to watch for Spanish invaders, and was captured by the Spanish in 1742. It was from this site that the Spanish began to probe St. Simons Island looking for a rumored second fort built by Oglethorpe (Ft. Frederica). Troops searching for Frederica initiated the Battle of Bloody Marsh, fought on the island during the War of Jenkins Ear.
In the early 1800's a plantation owner, James Couper, purchased the land and renamed it Couper's Point. He deeded four acres to the federal government for 1 dollar to build a lighthouse. The first structure, begun in 1807 by James Gould, was made of tabby, a common building material on the island at the time. Gould took three years to complete the project, then served as the first lighthouse keeper.
Over the years the government improved the lighthouse. One major improvement came with the installation of a new lens in 1857. From the top of the 75-foot tall lighthouse, the beam from the new lens would be visible up to ten miles from the coast. Unfortunately, Confederate troops destroyed the lighthouse in 1861 to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. For the next ten years St. Simons was without a light.
In 1868 the government contracted with Georgia architect Charles Cluskey to design and build the current lighthouse, which was completed in 1872. In 1890 the lighthouse was converted from whale oil lamps to kerosene lamps. In 1934 an electric line was run to the lighthouse, which used electricity to illuminate the island from that point on. In 1972 the Coastal Georgia Historical Society moved into the keeper's house, creating both a visitors center and museum.
St. Simons Lighthouse is listed on the National Register.
Location: South end of St. Simons island, in the village of St. Simons
Directions: From Savannah: Take I-95 to Exit 38 (Golden Isles Parkway). At the end of the ramp turn left and travel 4.6 miles to Ocean Highway (US 17). Bare right on Ocean Highway for 1.5 miles, then turn left on the Torras Causeway. As you come off the bridge take King's Way, which becomes Ocean Blvd, for 2.4 miles. Turn right on 12th Street, travel two blocks and park.
101 12th Street,
St. Simons, Georgia 31522-4821
Date added: February 8, 2004
Last update: March 2, 2004
Other Attractions in St. Simons
Christ Church (Christ Episcopal Church)