By Kathy Mastako — Volunteer Docent, Researcher, and Writer for Point San Luis Light Station
The Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers, like so many organizations and businesses both here and across the world, was caught off-guard when the pandemic hit. Our non-profit relies primarily on lighthouse tours and events to raise the funds needed for the on-going operation, maintenance, restoration, and preservation of this historic site and Central Coast hidden gem. Monetary and in-kind donations help sustain us, but tours and events have always been our primary revenue source.
Like so many historic properties, however, we’re unable to offer tours and events at the moment. And while we know this won’t last forever, when the time will come when we can re-open is unknowable. Folks say we’re in a marathon—but is it mile twenty-six (almost over) or mile one (still a long way to go)?
So, we did the only thing we could do. We used the pandemic’s lemons to start a lemonade stand.
Virtual tours have become our “lemonade-stand” solution. We’ve opened our historic buildings in a virtual manner, not only to those who live locally or who come to Avila Beach for a visit, but to anyone with an hour or so of free time, a device of some sort (desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) and the willingness to part with a few shekels.
Point San Luis Lighthouse virtual tours run every Wednesday at 2 pm Pacific time. Using Zoom, a docent leads guests on a walking tour of this historic site. Visitors travel back in time to 1890, delve into the lighthouse’s history, and see all the things one would see on an “in-person” tour, plus more. Guests explore the light station’s grounds, visit the head Keeper’s dwelling, see all the rooms, climb the lighthouse tower to the lantern room with its spectacular views of San Luis Bay, and step inside the fog signal room, and admire the beautiful Fresnel lens. And thanks to a recent donation from a private collection, the tour includes rare images of the lens and light that have never been seen before now.
Not convinced yet? Here’s what some of our guests have had to say about the virtual tour:
“The tour was great! Definitely recommending it to others.”
“Thanks so much for the tour. We very much enjoyed it. Can’t wait to visit.”
“I was initially somewhat skeptical of a virtual tour. I can now say it was a great investment of my time at minimal cost. [The docent] did so well in “walking” us through, and I appreciated the use of historical photographs. This makes me all the more interested to see it in person!”
“I just completed a virtual tour with [the docent] and wish to express my gratitude. I’ve wanted to visit for the last 18 years we lived in Paso Robles, but never made it for a number of reasons. I was a bit skeptical about doing this virtually but must say that I was surprised and very impressed.”
“It was a well-done presentation. The incredible pictures, both old and new, were clear and helpful in the explanation. [The docent] is knowledgeable about the lighthouse and has a comfortable, welcoming manner. She simply did an outstanding job.”
Tour tickets are $10 and may be purchased at My805Tix by searching “Point San Luis lighthouse.” Or, call (805)540-5771 or email email@example.com.