The South Bay contains a plethora of historically significant buildings including the Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro. The lighthouse and museum houses many historical artifacts. It has been refurbished to historical accuracy in building as well as furniture. I was amazed to at the contraptions that were used and that sometimes they hardly resembled the modern conveniences that we take for granted these days. My son was particularly in awe of the kitchen appliances that seemed to require a lot of work to operate. He asked me “Why didn’t they just use a regular stove?”
In addition to the lighthouse itself, the grounds and gardens are also remarkable. There is an apparatus in the park for the kids to romp around on and plenty of space for picnics by the ocean. Dolphins and whales are frequently seen off the coast.
An Architectural Gem
The lighthouse is an architectural treasure built in the Victorian “stick style” of construction. Beautiful wood carvings decorate the exposed structure of the building, on the eaves, balconies and the wrap around porch. A widow’s walk adorns the outside of the lighthouse tower and gives an amazing 360 degree view of the ocean and surroundings. It can feel harrowing, yet thrilling being up that high on the small walkway with a strong sea breeze.
A Piece of Past in the Present
Perhaps the most compelling tale from the lighthouse’s past is the story of two sisters, Mary and Ella Smith, who lived in the lighthouse. At the time the house was secluded and barren. Isolated from civilization, they depended on themselves for their daily necessities. For eight years they grew their own food, collected and preserved water in a cistern, and kept the lighthouse working nightlong with only occasional supply deliveries.
The lighthouse docents are very knowledgeable and freely tell the tales of a few other families that were responsible for the upkeep of the lighthouse. Each family had to face different obsticles in keeping the light burning along the coast and each saw the San Pedro area change and grow. They saw the arrival of the automobile and witnessed San Pedro change from an isolated peninsula to a bustling city. Thelma and Juanita Austin were the last keepers of the lighthouse and fittingly, they were also sisters like Ella and Mary who were the original Lighthouse Keepers.
Take a visit and a tour to hear more fascinating stories about the Lighthouse Keepers and families who lived there.
Plan your trip
Tours take place Tuesday – Sunday at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00. The Lighthouse tour is free but donations are suggested.
What is your favorite historical building in the South Bay?
807 W. Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731