Lighthouse Architecture

Architectural Style

The Point Fermin Lighthouse is designed in the Stick Style. Andrew Jackson Downing, publisher of pattern books in the 1860s and 1870s, promoted the Stick Style for its "truthfulness" in wooden construction. Unlike true half-timbering, the visible wood members were applied ornamentation and did not have a structural function. The Stick Style stressed the wall surface itself as a decorative element rather than as a surface to which decorative detailing was added. Virginia and Lee McAlester in A Field Guide to American Houses note that the "Stick style is a transitional style which links the preceding Gothic Revival with the subsequent Queen Anne; all three styles are free adaptations of Medieval English building traditions." According to the McAlesters, the Queen Anne movement was more influential and widespread than the Stick Style. The features that identify the lighthouse as Stick Style include its gabled roofs, decorative trusses in the apex of the gables, horizontal and wooden wall sheathing, overhanging eaves with exposed rafter ends and brackets, and porch and balcony with their diagonal and crisscrossing brackets.


Paul J. Pelz, a draftsman for the US Lighthouse Board, designed the Stick Style Victorian lighthouse. The design was used for six lighthouses built between 1873 and 1874, of which three are still standing, East Brothers in San Francisco Bay, Hereford Light in New Jersey, and Point Fermin. The drawings were signed by George H. Elliot, Major of Engineers U.S.A.