While climbing the spiral staircase of the St. Augustine Lighthouse during a family trip to Florida, I discovered its designer was Paul F. Pelz, also the architect of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The plaque features Pelz’s work, and many stop to read it because they need a break after climbing a total of 219 steps to the top.
Pelz worked as a civil engineer for the United States Lighthouse Board, where he served as chief draftsman from 1872 to 1877. He designed a number of lighthouses, including the St. Augustine Lighthouse pictured below as well as the Bodie Island Light Station and Currituck Beach Light Station to name a few.
He was partner to John L. Smithmeyer and together their Italian Renaissance design was selected by Congress for the new Library of Congress building in 1886.
Some of Pelz’s other works in the Washington, D.C. area include: Healy Hall, Georgetown University, Grace Reformed Church, First African New Church, and the General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial (with sculptor Henry Jackson Ellicott).