Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building
This building was constructed in 1995 to house the Association's Fresnel lenses and other lighthouse artifacts.
Invented by French scientist named Augustin-Jean Fresnel in the 1820s, Fresnel lenses use glass prisms mounted in bronze frames to focus the relatively weak light of an oil lamp into a bright beam of light that can be seen from many miles away. First introduced into U.S. lighthouses in the mid nineteenth century, Fresnel lenses replaced the older, and far less effective, Winslow Lewis Lenses.
The Lens Exhibit Building houses a wide assortment of historic Fresnel lenses including a fixed first order Fresnel lens originally installed in the Mosquito (now Ponce de Leon) Inlet Lighthouse in 1887, the magnificent rotating first order Fresnel lens from the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse on long term loan from the U.S. Coast Guard, a rare third order middle Chance Brothers lens with I.O.V. lamp, pedestal, and oil tanks, and a fourth order bivalve (clamshell) Fresnel lens that originally saw service along the Australian coast. Both first order lenses along with the Chance Brothers third order middle lens were restored on site by the Association's skilled restoration team.
The Ayres Davies Building is also home to modern lighthouse beacons, antique oil lamps, lamp changers, and light bulbs. Additional artifacts on display include lens cleaning kits, oil cans, service tools, and more. Informative text panels identify artifacts and trace the history of lighthouse illumination from the ancient Pharos Lighthouse near Alexandria, Egypt, through the modern day.
The Lens Exhibit Building is named in honor of Ayres Davies, a founding member of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Association and the first mayor of Ponce Inlet. Mr. Davies fought hard for the town and the Preservation Association to take possession of the Lighthouse and grounds. Otherwise, plans calling for possible destruction of the historic buildings would have resulted in the loss of the Light Staton for future generations.