CIHS Screens Sanibel Historical Museum and Village Documentary on Lighthouse
On January 24, 2024 more than 100 people gathered at the Captiva Civic Association to view the documentary movie ”Secrets and Stories of the Sanibel Lighthouse,” created by Ken Sneeden, and produced by the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. The Captiva Island Historical Society chose to screen the film on Captiva and donate the proceeds to the SHMV for use in its recovery efforts from Hurricane Ian.
The Lighthouse itself survived the hurricane, but suffered serious damage: Ian tore away some of the iron framework of the Lighthouse, and completely erased the two dwellings that had housed the lighthouse keepers and their families for 140 years.
After refreshments on the porch of the Civic Association, Mike Boris, the Vice Presdent of the CIHS, welcomed the crowd to the third event of the season.
Ken Sneeden, documentary director & producer,
discusses the research that went into the making of the film
Blair Wyatt, a current Director of CIHS, and former member of the Board of the SHMV, was the perfect person to introduce Celina Kersh Monte-Sano, the President of the Board of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, who spoke about the work remaining to restore the Village buildings.
Ken Sneeden began and ended his documentary with introducing the concept of a lighthouse as a symbol of both isolation and connection. The film portrayed both, as it documented the rich and varied history of the Sanibel Lighthouse, from its completion in 1884 to its current blinking beacon. It is now owned by the City of Sanibel, but operated by the U.S. Coastguard.
The film highlighted stories about the families who heroically operated the Lighthouse and its role in:
* Contributing to the world-wide best practices for mosquito control
* The development of increasingly sophisticated lighthouse lenses
* The use of “Square Skeletal” iron works for lighthouses, that could could be transported from their origins in Trenton, NJ
* Post Pearl Harbor vigilance to spot German submarines
* And, of course, the prevention shipwrecks in the shallow waters, the shifting sands, and seasonal hurricanes of southwest Florida.
Throughout its history the Sanibel Lighthouse was the focus of its isolated keepers, while they provided help and companionship for everyone from the early Homesteaders to subsequent residents of Sanibel and Captiva. As Virginia Woolf once wrote, “Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other.”
And the screening of the Lighthouse documentary connected the historical societies of Captiva and Sanibel with the visitors who came to enjoy learning about the secrets and stories they all now share.
The Captiva Island Historical Society is grateful for the support of the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company as the presenting sponsor for this season’s programs.