Galveston College to celebrate Veterans Day and 100th anniversary of lighting of the Galveston Jetty Lighthouse beacon

On Veterans Day, Nov. 12, Galveston College and Galveston Island will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the lighting of the lamp at the Galveston Jetty Lighthouse at what was at the time the busiest port on the Gulf Coast and second busiest port in the country.

On Nov. 12, 1918, one day after the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, and after 14 years of on-and-off construction, the lamp was lit for the first time at the Galveston (South) Jetty Lighthouse with George W. Bardwell serving as the first head keeper.

A violent storm ravaged the lighthouse on May 2, 2000, and the iron pilings, weakened by years of rust, gave way, causing the lighthouse to fall into the water.

In 2001, the Galveston Community College District Board of Regents met in a retreat and adopted the vision statement: “A Beacon of Light Guiding Lifelong Learning.”

Regent John L. Sullivan convinced the board that the college needed a symbol at the entrance of the college at 39th and Avenue Q. Regent Sullivan knew that the actual South Jetty Lighthouse cupola was rusting away in Sonny Broome’s welding yard, having been placed there after being salvaged by George P. Mitchell’s company.

In 2003, the U.S. Coast Guard granted a loan of the cupola to Galveston College, and John and Cindy Sullivan provided a donation of over $20,000 to have Sonny Broome restore it.

Architects were hired to design an area known as Beacon Square that would feature a replica of the South Jetty Lighthouse that used to stand on Galveston Island’s east end.

In November 2006, a public ceremony that included the U. S. Coast Guard color guard dedicated Beacon Square and the lighthouse replica, complete with the restored lighthouse cupola. Subsequent improvements allowed a fundraising engraved brick project to surround the lighthouse with nine oak trees available with naming rights.

The Beacon Square lighthouse now stands as a beautiful focal point at 39th Street and Avenue Q and a landmark for the Galveston College campus.

The college will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the lighting of the beacon on Veterans Day, Nov. 12, with a community celebration and glow party titled “Light Up the Night.” The event will include a veterans’ resource fair, glow party fun and children’s crafts and games, music, food and talks on the history of the lighthouse and beacon.

All events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule follows:

Schedule of Events

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Veterans Community Resource Fair, Mary Moody Northen Center Atrium

2 p.m. – 100th Anniversary of the Lighting of the Beacon and Veterans Day Celebration, Abe and Annie Seibel Wing Lawn

  • Veterans Day Wreath Ceremony hosted by Student Veterans Association
  • History of Galveston Jetty Lighthouse featuring Kevin Kinney, Archivist, Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library
  • A Beacon of Light Guiding Lifelong Learning: Galveston College Beacon Square featuring Joe Huff, Director of Public Affairs (Retired), Galveston College
  • A display featuring historical information on the Galveston Jetty Lighthouse, Seibel Wing Lobby

3-5 p.m. – Kids’ Zone – Abe and Annie Seibel Wing Lawn

  • Games
  • Bounce Houses
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Crafts with the Artis Crafting Club and Spark Poetry and Writing Club

5-7 p.m. – Light Up the Night Glow Party – Abe and Annie Seibel Wing Lawn

  • Music by DJ Roland Martinez
  • Refreshments
  • Glow Fun

In the event of inclement weather, outdoor events will be moved into the Hermes Fitness Center Gym.

For more information, contact Carol Langston in the Galveston College Public Affairs office at clangston@gc.edu.