Cabo San Juan
Backstory and Context
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, the Cabo San Juan Lighthouse, located on a high promontory and locally known as “El Faro de Fajardo,” is the second oldest in the system of lighthouses built in Puerto Rico by the Spanish Colonial government. Constructed in 1880 and in operation since 1882, the complex consists of a 1-story duplex with a 45-foot, cylindrical tower attached midway along one side of the dwelling. An elaborate cast-iron spiral staircase leads up the tower to the lantern room. Midway up the tower, a window opens towards the sea while a double-door provides access to the dwelling’s roof. The lantern room is circular and originally housed a Third Order Fresnel lens which was replaced by a Fourth Order when the lighthouse transferred to the U.S. Lighthouse Service after the Spanish American War. After the 1932 “San Ciprián” hurricane damaged the lens, a U.S. Westinghouse four-way revolving beacon was installed. In 1975 the surrounding site was acquired by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. In 1989 the Trust conducted extensive research to guarantee the authenticity of all planned restoration work on the lighthouse. Using nineteenth-century techniques, the original windows, doors, structural and decorative woodwork, and walls were restored to their original finishes and colors. Cabo San Juan Lighthouse was made available to qualified organizations in 2006 under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, and in 2010 the lighthouse was transferred to the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.