Ten houses of refuge, unique to Florida's east coast, were constructed by the US Life-Saving Service between 1876 and 1886. When ships traveling along the almost uninhabited coast were grounded or wrecked on reefs, survivors often made it to land but had no way to reach civilization. House of refuge keepers and their families provided food and shelter to victims of shipwrecks. The keepers' lives were monotonous but punctuated with the excitement of an occasional shipwreck. The US Life-Saving Service provided the framework on which the east coast of Florida developed. With the establishment of the US Coast Guard in 1915, the Life-Saving Service houses of refuge became Coast Guard stations.
About the Author
Sandra Thurlow, who lives near the only remaining house of refuge, has been collecting and sharing the history of houses of refuge for many years. When she thought she had collected everything available, she met Sarah Prado, whose grandparents served at the Mosquito Lagoon House of Refuge for 22 years and left a treasure trove of photographs. Timothy Dring, president of the US Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, shared numerous official photographs discovered in the National Archives. Thurlow and Dring combined their resources and research to compile this history of the US Life-Saving Service along Florida's east coast.
Table of Contents
1 Florida's Adaptation of US Life-Saving Service Stations 9
2 The US Coast Guard Era and Beyond 59
3 The Coutant Family and the Mosquito Lagoon House of Refuge 99
4 Fred Hall's World War I-Era Coast Guard Images 119
Supporting Organizations 127