The St. Simons Island Light comes alive at dusk each night. Framing it through the trees adds dimension and character to this beautiful and historic lighthouse along the Georgia coast.
The U.S. government constructed a new lighthouse to replace the original, building it to the west of the original's location. It is a 104-foot (32 m) brick structure completed in 1872 and was outfitted with a third-order, biconvex Fresnel lens. The lens is one of 70 such lenses that remain operational in the United States. Sixteen of those are in use on the Great Lakes, of which eight are in Michigan. The rotating lens projects four beams of light, with one strong flash every 60 seconds. A cast iron spiral stairway with 129 steps leads to the galley (or watch/service room). In 1876, the lighthouse was overhauled.
In 1934 the kerosene-burning lamp was replaced by a 1000-watt electrical light, and was fully automated in 1953.
On July 1, 1939, the United States Lighthouse Service was placed under the jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard.
In 1972, the Coast Guard placed rear range lights on two towers at the entrance to the Frederica River off of St. Simons Sound. Entering the entrance channel at sea and proceeding inward, by keeping the lighthouse centered between the two rear range lights, keeps one in the center of the entrance channel. The lighthouse is therefore still an active navigational aid.
In 1972, the light-keepers' cottage was leased to Glynn County. The Coastal Georgia Historical Society spent three years restoring the two-story Victorian light keepers' cottage, located at the base of the lighthouse, which was then converted into a museum. In 1984, they leased the historic lighthouse structure. For a fee, the public can tour the museum, and climb the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse for a view of St. Simons Sound and the surrounding area.
The tower underwent restoration in 1989–91 and again in 1997–98.
May 26, 2004, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the Coastal Georgia Historical Society under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.
The light mechanism is maintained by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, led by Jeff Cole since 1993.
The St. Simons Lighthouse, along with the northernmost water tower on Jekyll Island, creates the demarcation line that separates St. Simons Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.
The lighthouse is a picturesque and beloved symbol of St. Simons Island, and Glynn County, Georgia. It is the subject of many paintings and other artistic renderings.