Historic Structures

Hillsboro Inlet Light Station, Pompano Beach Florida

Date added: July 10, 2019 Categories: Florida Lighthouse

The Hillsboro Light, which marks the northern limit of the Florida Reef, has long been a welcomed navigation sight to seafarers traveling along the Atlantic Ocean. This 132 foot beacon has cast the brightest light of any lighthouse in Florida throughout most of the 20th century. Light structure and complex have a unique history and have been well-preserved.

The Hillsboro Light was assembled by a Chicago steel firm for exihibition at the 1904 great St. Louis Exposition; the light was made in Paris, France in 1880 and is of the Second Order Classical type. At the end of the exposition the United States government bought the light and its tower and the structure was disassembled and shipped to its present site. The Hillsboro Inlet site was purchased by the federal government on November 9, 1903. The U.S. Lighthouse Service contracted George W. Brown of West Palm Beach to build the keeper's dwelling and other buildings for $21,500 in 1905. Russell Wheel and Foundry of Detroit, Michigan contracted to complete the metal work on the tower for $24,000 and in January, 1906 the J.H. Gardner Construction Company of New Orleans, contracted to erect the tower and foundation. The light went into operation in March, 1907 with Alfred A. Berghell as its first keeper.

The original kerosene lamp which rotated on a mercury filled reservoir was converted to electricity in the late 1920s, increasing the candlepower to 550,000 and making it the most powerful light on the east coast at that time. In 1966 a 1,000 Watt quartz-iodine bulb was installed increasing the Intensity to 2,000,000 candlepower. The light is now the brightest light in Florida and can be seen from 18 to 20 miles offshore on a clear night.

The outer buildings built by George W. Brown remain virtually unaltered since their construction in 1905-1907.

Hillsboro Inlet Light Station, Pompano Beach Florida 1975 North Aerial View
1975 North Aerial View

Hillsboro Inlet Light Station, Pompano Beach Florida 1975 North view
1975 North view

Building Description

The station is located on a three-acre section of property adjoining the Hillsboro Country Club at Hillsboro Beach. The Coast Guard purchased this property in 1903 and the complex, constructed in 1907, consists of a lighthouse, light keeper's quarters, senior officer recreation quarters, shop and garage building, timer and generator building and the crews' barracks building. Of these, the first four structures are presently being utilized by the Coast Guard in operation of the station.

The light tower was built in 1907. It is an octagonal, pyramidal iron skeleton tower with central stair cylinder and is 132 feet high. The light is still operational.

The keeper's quarters was built in 1907, It is a frame, one story structure.

The recreation quarters are used to house senior Coast Guard officers and was built in 1907.

The crews 1 barracks is a one-story frame structure built in 1907. The building contains 4,737 square feet, is situated on 12' brick foundation and has an asphalt shingle roof. Originally, it was used as a station administration building and later it was used to house the station's crew until the light was automated in 1974.

The garage building, a wood frame, single story structure, was used for storage and to house the government vehicle when a car was assigned. This building is approximately 750 square feet and was built in 1907.

The timer and generator building was used to house equipment to operate the light and was built in 1942 and contains approximately 342 square feet.