On May 21, 1838, Florida Territorial delegate Charles Downing requested a lighthouse be built on Cape Canaveral. The first lighthouse completed in Jan. 1848 stood 65-feet tall, had a 55-foot tower and a 10-foot lantern room equipped with 15 lamps on 21-inch reflectors. The brick tower and keeper's home cost under $13,300. Nathaniel Scobie oversaw construction and appointed the first keeper.
With the advent of the Civil War, S. Mallory, Confederate Navy Secretary, ordered Florida east coast lighthouses "extinguished." Keeper Mills Burnham removed the lamp and buried it in his orange grove.
A state-of-the-art, 151-foot iron tower was erected in 1868 and topped with a 1st Order Fresnel lens. The tower's living quarters were used for storage and a weather station.
In 1871 a storm surge washed over the lighthouse area spoiling lamp oil and drinking water. This and shoreline erosion caused the lighthouse to be moved. From Oct. 1893 to Jul. 1894 the tower was dismantled, moved by tram one mile inland and re-erected, along with a 1st and 2nd assistant's and keeper's homes, to its present location.
In 1939 the Coast Guard took ownership. In 2000 stewardship was transferred to the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base.