News from 1997:
An 87-foot working lighthouse could light up Downtown as part of the First Baptist Church's plans to build yet another parking garage.
The proposed lighthouse, which will be a replica of the one in St. Augustine, is only in the preliminary planning stages, but is something the church would "very much like to do," said Dudley Freeman, construction administrator for First Baptist. The church is working with the zoning department and even the Federal Aviation Administration on the feasibility of the lighthouse. The structure would be incorporated into the corner of the 800-space parking lot planned for Union and Pearl streets. "We don't have any steeples," Freeman said. "It would be sort of a landmark and identification for our buildings." First Baptist owns more than half-a-million square feet of building space downtown, three parking garages and surface lots totaling more than 2,000 spaces, he said. This would be parking lot No. 4. The garage and lighthouse are several months from an actual construction date, Freeman said, considering all the regulatory issues surrounding such a structure. The new garage is needed for the expected addition of more educational space for the church in the near future. First Baptist recently purchased the former Legal Aid building and has already used up the space, Freeman said. The church is also considering expanding, either to property it owns on Beaver Street across from parking lot No. 3 or across from the Jacksonville Electric Authority building on Ashley Street.