The Point San Luis Lighthouse was designed in the “Prairie Victorian” style and is the lone survivor of its kind on the western coast. The small, white, square building was topped with brick red roofs, covering both the house and porch. Steps led up to the porch. Attached to the house was the lighthouse itself, a tall, white, square tower rising only a few feet above the roof of the house. The apex was octagonal, completely closed in with glass and covered with a black, octagon-shaped roof, crowned with a black iron ball. A black fence surrounded the top.
This area housed the famous Fresnel Lens until 1969, when it was replaced by an automated electric light. The Fresnel Lens was lit by kerosene until 1935, before it was replaced with an electric light. During recent years, ships find their way through the harbor by the beam of an LED light, attached to the cyclone fence that encloses the radar dishes, located in the front of the property.
A knowledgeable docent gave us a tour of the lighthouse. She began by leading visitors up the steep, narrow stairs to the top of the lighthouse tower. From here we could see miles and miles of blue ocean. She then led the group through the rooms in the house: The kitchen, dining room and parlor were all downstairs; three bedrooms were located upstairs; and there was a basement.
The kitchen was cluttered with items that would have been used during the late 1800s. Here, the familiar story was told of the entire family taking a bath in the washtub in the middle of the kitchen floor. The Dad always started the bath and the baby ended it. Thus, the proverbial saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!”
The dining room contained a unique floor-length window that opened from the bottom, up. Our tour-guide opened this window and we all walked through it onto the porch.
In the parlor, she showed us a “parlor” game called a stereoscope. Before television, this mechanism was popular. It featured glasses and a 3-D picture card of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene. Upon moving the card back and forth it appeared as if the images were moving.
Upstairs was Lucy’s bedroom. Cool, fresh, salty air rushed through the open window in this more modern room. It was decorated the way it would have been in 1934, when Lucy was twelve and electricity was first introduced to the lighthouse. Born in Colorado, she moved to the lighthouse as an infant when her mother married lighthouse keeper, Robert Moorefield. Robert and Lucy’s mother later had a child named Judy. The very night before we visited the lighthouse, Judy had sneaked into her sister’s bedroom and placed her childhood teddy bear on the desk. Our docent was so surprised to see the bear! Still living, Judy was five years old when her parents moved from the lighthouse.
Robert Moorefield had a son of his own when he married Lucy’s mother. Lucy and her brother used to trek to elementary school every day, down the same trail we had followed earlier in the day. When they reached high school age, they would row a boat every Sunday night over to nearby Avila Beach and then take the train into San Luis Obispo. They would spend the week at their aunt’s house and return to the lighthouse every Friday evening.
…to be concluded next Wednesday