The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is one gems of Palm Beach County that is hidden in plain sight. Located along the Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to the Jupiter Inlet, the lighthouse and museum is operated by the non-profit Loxahatchee River Historical Society.
The museum itself first opened in 1973 and is part of the 120-acre Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (JILONA). This sprawling complex features a museum & gift shop, the 108 foot Jupiter Lighthouse, walking trails / nature path, The Tindall House & Gardens, the Keeper’s Workshop & Exhibit and the Lighthouse Pier.
Surrounded by the Town of Jupiter, the Village of Tequesta, Jupiter Inlet Colony and Jupiter Island, the JILONA was federally designed by Congress in 2008 to “protect, conserve, and enhance the unique and nationally important historic, natural, cultural, scientific, educational, scenic, and recreational values of the Federal land surrounding the Lighthouse for the benefit of present generations and future generations for the people in the United States.” There is a one mile hiking trail that runs from both sides of South Beach Road and features a mangrove lagoon and beach area along the Intracoastal Waterway.
About the Jupiter Lighthouse
In 1852 the Lighthouse Board first proposed a lighthouse for inlet in Jupiter, Florida and two years later lighthouse President Franklin Pierce signed a bill establishing the Jupiter Lighthouse Reservation on a site selected by lighthouse designer George Meade. Construction of the lighthouse began in 1859 and the Jupiter Lighthouse was first lighted for service on July 10, 1860. During the Civil War the lighthouse went dark but was relit on June 28, 1866 and currently remains in operation by the United States Coast Guard since 1939.
The lighthouse is 108 feet in height and sits on a 48 foot natural parabolic sand due hill that was topped with a layer of shell. The 1,000-watt, 120 volt GE incandescent bulb projects a beam of light is emitted at a height of 146 and can be seen up to 25 miles on a clear day. The lighting system makes a complete rotation every minute.
Construction of the red lighthouse structure consists of double brick masonry walls on a brick and coquina foundation. The exact number of bricks used for constructed is estimated to be 500,000. There are 105 cast irons stairs with three landing areas that spiral counterclockwise around a central iron column. With the exception of five damaged stairs that have been replaced, all the stairs are from the original construction.
According to the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, at least 83 civilians served as permeant or temporary lighthouse keeps or caretakers. In addition, at least 107 enlisted Coast Guard personnel served as keepers at the Jupiter Inlet light Station. During World War II, there were 29 lookouts posted to monitor possible enemy activity.
Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday through Sunday. Guided history tours are offered on Tuesday through Friday from Noon to 2:00 PM. Admission costs $12 per adult, $6 per child ages 6 to 18 (kids under 6 are free) and $10 for seniors age 60+ & US Veterans. Active duty military and families are free of charge.
About the Museum and Grounds
Originally constructed by the United States Navy for the married men’s quarters around 1939, the two-story museum building is the last remaining military building from World War II. The building was part of the US Naval Supplemental Radio Station that was code named Station J and includes six two-bedrooms apartments.
The building includes the museum itself, the museum gift shop and a large veranda where guests can watch the boats go by along the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to the museum, the additional exhibits at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum include:
- The Tindall Pioneer Homestead
- Keeper’s Workshop & Deck
- Seminole Chickee
- Outstanding Natural Area
- Lighthouse Cemetery
- Nature Path
- Lighthouse Pier
The Tindall Pioneer Homestead was originally built in 1892 and is considered one of the oldest homes in Palm Beach County. The home was originally located on the 128-acres along the Loxahatchee River but was moved in 2007 to it’s current location on the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum grounds. The Tindall Pioneer home is set up in a manner exhibiting life as it was in the early 1900’s.
One of the newest features to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is the Lighthouse Pier which extends into the clear blue waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Along with the spectacular views of the waterway and Jupiter Inlet, abundant marine life including fish, sea turtles and manatees can been seen from the pier.
Since the museum grounds run along the Intracoastal Waterway, it is a popular place on pleasant to sit, relax and watch the boats go by. While the museum’s Visitor Guide indicated “No Swimming or wading”, there is a roped area in the water and quite often we see children playing.
Important Note: Due to the construction of the adjacent US Highway 1 bridge, the Museum Exhibit is temporarily closed “to protect our artifacts”. We expect that the museum will likely reopen when the $133 million bridge upgrade is complete.
Special Events and Experiences
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum hosts a number of special events and experiences which include:
- Rendezvous at the Light: Traditionally held annually in November to raise money for charity, guests will enjoy live music, food from local restaurants, wine and craft beer.
- Holiday Night at the Light: Traditionally held annually in early December in conjunction with the Holiday Boat Parade, guests will enjoy food trucks, music, evening lighthouse climbs and local shopping.
- Family Adventure Day: This event is traditionally held in January after the holiday’s and lets families explore the grounds around the Jupiter Lighthouse.
- Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour: Held on April 9, 2022 starting at 6:00 PM, the 8th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour brings short films that feature “the love of nature and inspire environmental stewardship”. The 2022 theme is called the Currents of Hope and tickets go on sale March 7th.
About the Loxahatchee River Historical Society
The Loxahatchee River Historical Society is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that founded in 1972. There mission was indicated as follows: “As stewards of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum and a partner in the National Conservation Lands, the Loxahatchee River Historical Society preserves and interprets the dynamic history, ancient cultural heritage and sensitive natural systems of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area and the Loxahatchee River region.”
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