The U.S. government designated Pensacola as a Naval base way back in 1824, and authorized a lighthouse for the location--making Pensacola the oldest lighthouse site on the Gulf Coast. The original light was never tall enough or bright enough for such an important location, and was finally replaced in 1859. The tower's impressive height of 171 feet is augmented by it's location on a hill, giving Pensacola a focal plane of 210 feet. The current first-order lens has revolving bulls-eyes to give the light its characteristic flash.
During the Civil War, Confederate troops bombarded Pensacola. The tower survived with minor damage, but the original first-order lens was destroyed. During the period from 1863-69 a fourth-order lens served temporary duty until the present lens replaced it.
Pensacola Light is maintained by the US Coast Guard, but it is located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station. The NAS is open to the public, and the grounds are accessible for a lighthouse visit. Tours of the tower are only by appointment or during summer Sundays.