POINT FERMIN LIGHTHOUSE, San Pedro, California

Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro, California, Historic Site and Museum
Like a well-dressed Victorian lady, the Point Fermin Lighthouse stands proudly on a bluff above San Pedro Bay in Southern California. Built in 1874, its light guided ships on their way into the busy harbor of Los Angeles for the next sixty-seven years. Then, on December 6, 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the light went dark, never to be lit again.
Guided  tours of the lighthouse are available in the afternoon, Tuesday through Sunday
Today, now restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is open to visitors who come to learn what it was like when lighthouse families lived in the house and operated the light at the top of the narrow stairs that lead to the lantern room in the lighthouse tower.
A fourth order Fresnel lens like this one shone from the lighthouse tower (photo from postcard)
On a recent Saturday afternoon I visited the Point Fermin Lighthouse and took the guided tour. Tours are free, but limited to nine people–due to the steep narrow stairs and the limited space at the top.
Narrow stairway to the top of the lighthouse
We met the docent who was our tour leader in the office/gift shop (the former barn and carriage house) where I bought post cards and a book about the lighthouse’s history. (No photos are allowed inside the house.) We then proceeded through the beautiful flower garden to the house entrance.
View of the lighthouse kitchen with period furnishings (from postcard)
Rooms are furnished with items typical of the late nineteenth century–a coal burning stove, ice chest for refrigeration, beds covered with patchwork quilts and with frames strung with ropes to support the mattress. Keepers of the lighthouse included several families, the last being that of William Austin, who came to the lighthouse in 1917 with his wife and eight children.
 
View toward Palos Verdes and the Point Vicente Lighthouse from the Point Fermin lighthouse tower
In the early days of the lighthouse, there was no greenery–just a bleak expanse of dry land. Rainwater was collected during the winter and stored in cisterns. The first keepers of the lighthouse, sisters Mary and Ella Smith, had to go to San Pedro, the nearest town five miles away,  by horse and buggy to get supplies, Today, the lighthouse sits in Point Fermin Park, a popular picnic area filled with trees and grassy lawns and the city of San Pedro has expanded to the neighboring streets. A visit to the the Point Fermin lighthouse is a fascinating glimpse of California history and the unique life of the families that lived there.
Point Fermin Lighthouse Historic Site and Museum
807 W. Paseo Del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731

For information about visiting the Point Fermin Lighthouse, click HERE.
Book by Henrietta Mosley about the keepers of the Point Fermin lighthouse and their families.

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