The construction of the first Pensacola lighthouse was began and completed in 1824. It was the first Lighthouse on the Gulf Coast and the second lighthouse in Florida. It was completed at a cost of $5,725. The lighthouse stood 80’above sea level on the northern entrance of the bay near the present day Lighthouse Point Restaurant. In 1832, the lighthouse guide warned against trying to use the light at night, when it would be most useful, because trees on Santa Rosa Island to the east and on the mainland to the west obscured the beam. In 1838, it was suggested that the lighthouse be moved “to enable our cruisers to leave or enter the harbor at any time of the night”. By 1851 the light was so dim it was said to be equal to only a small harbor light.
The construction of the present lighthouse was begun in 1856. It was lit January 1, 1859. A first-order Fresnel lens, was cut and polished by Henri LePaute of Paris, France and was installed and lighted by a single whale oil lamp. In 1965, the lighthouse was automated so it no longer required the Keeper or Coast Guard personnel to live at the site. The former Keeper’s Quarters houses the Navy’s Command Display Center, which has exhibits pertaining to the history of the lighthouse and the Naval Air Station.