Gulf Coast residents and visitors alike are fascinated with lighthouses, whether it’s for their usefulness as coastal beacons – or for their sheer beauty and symbolic strength.

The Alabama Lighthouse Association works to preserve and protect the state’s lighthouses, and sought to partner with GulfQuest to honor one of the Gulf Coast’s last remaining screw-pile lighthouses.

In 2007, GulfQuest worked with the Lighthouse Association to install a new exhibit at Mobile Regional Airport that showcases a lantern room identical to the one that once sat atop Middle Bay Lighthouse in the center of Mobile Bay.

The original lantern room at Middle Bay was removed in 1905 when twin lamps were installed. Historical records do not reveal what happened to the lantern room.

This lantern room was obtained by the Alabama Lighthouse Association from a collector in California and renovated for GulfQuest’s display. The lantern room’s focal point is its beacon: a newly-restored Fresnel lens on loan from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The lantern room serves as the exhibit’s centerpiece, and is surrounded by kiosks that provide airport visitors with details on the lantern room, Alabama lighthouses, the Alabama Lighthouse Association, and GulfQuest.

The exhibit was designed and fabricated by Jim Horner of the Alabama Lighthouse Association and Brent Beall, Exhibits Director of GulfQuest, and funded in part by NOAA.