The lighthouse at the southern end of Anclote Key has served as a beacon to ships for many years. President Grover Cleveland declared the island a lighthouse reservation in 1886. The lighthouse was built and began operation on September 15, 1887. Today the lighthouse is maintained as a historic structure.
When the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984, vandals had their way with this old island sentry, defacing it with graffiti. The structure's finish began to oxidize in the salty air of the island, leading to further destruction of the lighthouse. In the early 1990s, Florida Park Service staff, along with the Gulf Island Alliance, reconstructed the lighthouse and returned it to its original state. Today, a Park Ranger resides on the island watching over the old sentinel of the sea, just as it has watched over the countless vessels crossing its path.
This aerial photograph, taken in the early 1950s, shows the two residences surrounded by the island's native vegetation.
The dock shows signs of deterioration, with the last few boards furthest from the land missing. Strong seas and storms must have made island life a bit frightening at times for the keepers who lived here.