St. Augustine Lighthouse
Ghost Hunters



St. Augustine Lighthouse (Ghost Hunters)

Ghost Hunters footage of paranormal activity found within the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida. The evidence caught consists of a voice screaming 'help me' and shadow figures darting from point to point at an extremely fast pace.
Donna tells TAPS about a lighthouse in St. Augustine, Fla., that has a lot of paranormal potential.

Its history includes a man who hanged himself on the front porch, and reports of people hearing footsteps running up and down stairs and the voice of a 12-year-old girl calling out.


Before the team leaves, Ron Milione gives Brian and Steve portable Geiger counters that he says may be useful because it's believed that paranormal spirits emit a radioactive frequency.When the team arrives, it meets with Paul Wenglowsky, director of education at the lighthouse. He shares the story of a family that died during the building's construction.


St. Augustine Lighthouse

The lighthouse and surrounding buildings have a long history of paranormal activity.

Allegedly, visitors and workers have seen moving shadows, heard voices and unexplained sounds, and seen the figures of two little girls standing on the lighthouse catwalk


(who purportedly were daughters of Hezekiah Pittee, Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction, during the 1870s; the girls drowned in a tragic accident during the building of the tower).


He takes them to a landing where a bucket has been heard being picked up and dropped. As they go upstairs, a guide explains that he has heard a groaning sound while climbing this staircase.

At the top of the lighthouse, a padlocked door recently was found open one morning without the alarm having been activated.

Witnesses have seen a "woman in white" and a little girl here during storms. After the tour of the building, Paul takes the TAPS team to the house where the lighthouse-keepers lived.

After the last lighthouse-keeper heard footsteps and voices, and saw lights turn on and off inside the house, he refused to stay there and chose to sleep in a nearby Coast Guard bungalow instead.

In the basement a number of people have seen the ghost of a man walk past. When Brian, Dustin and Steve are in the basement, they hear male and female voices but can't figure out where they came from. Jason and Grant debunk the falling-bucket story by discovering that a nearby window, when slammed, sounds like a bucket dropping.

That night, Jason, Grant, Dustin and Brian all hear a woman's voice say "Help me." Jason and Grant hear voices in conversation, see something block a window, spy a shadow floating near the lights, and notice a figure leaning over a railing near them but when they run up the stairs, they find nothing.


St. Augustine Lighthouse

Other reports are of a woman seen on the lighthouse stairway or walking in the yard outside the buildings, and the figure of a man who roams the basement.


Brian and Dustin see something move across a window and notice a hand grabbing the railing. Brian thinks he sees a big ball of light flash above them.

Steve braves his fear of heights to investigate the lighthouse; he, too, sees a shadow on the landing.

After analyzing the evidence, Brian and Steve play audio of the voice saying "help me," as well as video taken at the same time by Brian and Dustin, of something moving on the landing.

Steve shows them a clip of something peeking over the railing. He says that, if the figure they saw was solid, a nearby motion sensor should have turned on a light, but it didn't.

Jason and Grant meet with Paul and review all the evidence. They show him the clip of something moving quickly on the stairs, which Paul says sends chills up his spine.

They also show him video of Jason and Grant chasing something that climbed two flights of stairs in two seconds then looked back at them over the railing. Jason and Grant agree that the lighthouse is haunted. Paul says that he was a skeptic but is now a believer. Grant tells him it's chilling, but that there's no need to be afraid because no one has been harmed.




The History of St. Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine was the site of the first lighthouse established in Florida by the new, territorial, American Government in 1824. According to some archival records and maps, this "official" American lighthouse was placed on the site of an earlier watchtower built by the Spanish as early as the late 16th century.

The Map of St. Augustine depicting Sir Francis Drake's attack on the city by Baptista Boazio, 1589, shows an early wooden watch tower near the Spanish structure, which was described as a "beacon" in Drake's account.

By 1737, Spanish authorities built a more permanent tower from coquina taken from a nearby quarry on the island. Archival records are inconclusive as to whether the Spanish used the coquina tower as a lighthouse, but it seems likely given the levels of maritime trade by that time. The structure was regularly referred to as a "lighthouse" in documents dating to the British Period beginning in 1763.

In 1783, the Spanish once again took control of St. Augustine, and once again the lighthouse was improved. British engineer and Marine surveyor, Joseph F.W. Des Barres marks a coquina "Light House" on Anastasia Island in his 1780 engraving, "A Plan of the Harbour of St. Augustin." Jacques N. Belline, Royal French Hydrographer, refers to the coquina tower as a "Batise" in Volume I of "Petit Atlas Maritime."

The accuracy of these scholars is debated still; Des Barres work includes some obvious errors, but Belline is considered highly qualified.

His work provides an important reference to St. Augustine's geography and landmarks in 1764. Facing erosion and a changing coastline, the old tower crashed into the sea in 1880, but not before a new lighthouse was lit. Today the tower ruins are a submerged archaeological site whose smooth stones may still be seen at low tide.

Early lamps in the first tower burned lard oil. Multiple lamps with silver reflectors were replaced by a fourth order Fresnel lens in 1855, greatly improving the lighthouse's range and eliminating some maintenance issues. At the beginning of the Civil War, future mayor Paul Arnau a local Menorcan harbor master, along with the lightkeeper, a woman named Maria De Los Delores Mestre, removed the lens from the old lighthouse and hid it, in order to block Union shipping lanes.

The lens and clock works were recovered after Arnau was held captive on a ship off-shore until he revealed their location.By 1870 beach erosion threatened the first lighthouse. Construction on a new light tower began in 1871 during Florida's reconstruction period. In the meantime a jetty of coquina and brush was built to protect the old tower.

A trolley track brought building supplies from the ships at the dock. The new tower was completed in 1874, and put into service with a new first order Fresnel lens. It was lit for the first time in October by keeper William Russell. Russell was the first lighthouse keeper in the new tower. He was the only keeper to have worked both towers. For 20 years the site was manned by head-keeper William A. Harn of Philadelphia.

Major Harn was a Union war hero who commanded his own battery at the Battle of Gettysburg. With his wife, Kate Skillen Harn, of Maine, he had six lovely daughters. The family was known for serving lemonade out on the porches of the keepers' house, which was constructed as a Victorian duplex during Harn's tenure.

On August 31st, 1886 the Charleston earthquake caused the tower to sway violently, according to the keeper's log, but there was no recorded damage. After many experiments with different types of oils, in 1885 the lamp was converted from lard oil to kerosene.

During World War II, Coast Guard men and women trained in St. Augustine, and used the lighthouse as a lookout post for enemy ships and submarines which frequented the coastline.

In 1907 indoor plumbing reached the light station, followed by electricity in the keeper's quarters in 1925. The light itself was electrified in 1936, and automated in 1955. As the light was automated, positions for three keepers slowly dwindled down to two and then one.

No longer housing lighthouse families by the 1960s, the Keepers House was rented to local residents. Eventually it was declared surplus, and St. Johns County bought it in 1970. In that year the Keepers' house suffered a devastating fire at the hands of an unknown arsonist.


The lighthouse and surrounding buildings have a long history of supposed paranormal activity.

Allegedly, visitors and workers have seen moving shadows, heard voices and unexplained sounds, and seen the figures of two little girls standing on the lighthouse catwalk (who purportedly were daughters of Hezekiah Pittee, Superintendent of Lighthouse Construction, during the 1870s; the girls drowned in a tragic accident during the building of the tower).


Other reports are of a woman seen on the lighthouse stairway or walking in the yard outside the buildings, and the figure of a man who roams the basement.

The male figure is said to possibly be that of Civil War hero and former lighthouse keeper William A. Harn.

Stories like these have led The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) to the scene where they shot an episode of the SyFy show Ghost Hunters.

During this episode, TAPS claims to have captured a few mysterious incidents on video in the lighthouse such as a disembodied voice of a woman crying "help me" and a shadowy figure was supposedly recorded on video moving about the stairs above them.

Due to the success of the first investigation, TAPS later returned for a follow-up investigation and experienced similar incidents. The lighthouse offers "Dark of the Moon" tours where visitors can tour the site at night, and get the real facts about the history of those who have died on the site, though no ghosts are promised.