Built in 1874 with lumber from California redwoods and a Fresnel Lens brought around Cape Horn by sailing ships. For its time, this Victorian lighthouse was a palatial structure, crowned with a cupola fitted with a 2,100-candlepower light. Miss Mary L. Smith, the first, lighthouse keeper, lived with her sister, but they gave up the lonely occupation because there were no other settlers nearer than Wilmington. In the 1880's, when Captain George Shaw was keeper, the lighthouse was the scene of many parties.
In 1898, a petroleum vapor incandescent lamp was installed; then, in 1925, a new 6,600 candlepower electric light which projected a beam 22 miles out to sea. Because it did not have a fog-signalling apparatus, it was a one-keeper station until 1941 when all coastal lights were extinguished as protection against enemy attacks. The lens lantern and gallery were replaced by an ugly lookout shack which remained for the next thirty years.
After the war, the light remained off, and radar and direction finders took over sentry and signaling duties. The structure fell into disuse and disrepair until a new lantern and gallery were built by volunteers, restoring it to its original charm just in time for a centennial celebration in 1974. Today, Point Fermin Lighthouse is one of San Pedro's most recognized landmarks and was used for the San Pedro Centennial logo. As the residence of the park superintendent, it is not open to the public.
By kjfitz @ 2005-08-13 22:43:03