The spiraling climb up 88 steps to the top of the Key West lighthouse, and everything around it, is likely to see renovations later this year.
The lighthouse at 938 Whitehead St., which includes the Keeper's Quarters Museum, is up for $665,800 in painting, repair and restoration work. The Key West Art & Historical Society operates it as a tourist destination.
The contract with Sarasota-based D.L. Porter Constructors, which needs to be approved by Monroe County commissioners at their July 15 meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West, calls for repainting the exterior of both the lighthouse and the museum, patching the metal stairway in the lighthouse and painting the top of the lighthouse.
Monroe County Project Management Director Doug Sposito said construction is scheduled to begin in two phases this fall. The first phase involves the Keeper's Quarters, which will allow the lighthouse to remain open to visitors, before the lighthouse itself is renovated in the second phase.
Sposito estimates the entire project to take between six and eight months.
"The whole lighthouse will have scaffoldings," Sposito said.
Sposito said half the costs will be paid for with the county Tourist Development Council money and the other half will come from the county's capital improvement fund.
The current lighthouse, which became necessary after the U.S. Navy established its base in Key West in 1823, opened in 1848 with a female keeper. A first lighthouse was built in 1825 but was destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1846.
The U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the current 86-foot tower in 1969 because technology made a keeper unnecessary.
An old Fresnel lens from the Sombrero Key Lighthouse in Marathon is in the Keeper's Quarters Museum. Marathon officials had hoped to get it to display in the lobby of Marathon's new city hall when it opens following construction but it was deemed cost-prohibitive.
An estimate from Solaria Design & Consulting study had it costing $169,850 to bring the Sombrero lens back for display.