250px-Cabo_Rojo_lighthouseThe light­house was ren­o­vat­ed in 1986, but there­after it was not main­tained and rapid­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed through neglect and van­dal­ism. In ear­ly 2001 the light­house was in very poor con­di­tion. In June 2002 the city gov­ern­ment announced it would spend $4.5 mil­lion to restore the light­house, con­struct a vis­i­tor cen­ter, and estab­lish a nature pre­serve in the sur­round­ing area. Restora­tion of the light sta­tion began lat­er in 2002 and was com­plet­ed in Octo­ber 2004. A sec­ond phase of this project will devel­op the grounds with walk­ways and wildlife view­ing plat­forms. The light sta­tion is locat­ed with­in the Cabo Rojo Nation­al Wildlife Refuge.

The Cabo Rojo, or Mor­ril­los de Cabo Rojo light­house entered ser­vice on August 20, 1882. Its first keep­ers were José Pérez Bar­rios and Euge­nio Fiol. It was designed by Enrique Gadea and built by the gov­ern­ment itself on the west­ern cape (mor­ril­lo) that forms the south­west tip of the island. The project was dif­fi­cult due to the site’s iso­la­tion and took five years to com­plete, for his accom­plish­ment Eng. Gadea received the King Charles III knight cross. The build­ing mea­sures 90 feet long by 38 feet wide.

It was paint­ed gray with white details and green win­dows, the same col­ors it has today. The 41-foot tow­er is hexag­o­nal and con­nects to the rear or south face of the build­ing, a room under the tow­er stored the fuel for the lamp. The tower’s stair­way lacks a cen­tral col­umn, so as in the Fajar­do light­house, the weights that rotat­ed the lens descend­ed through a duct built into the tower’s wall; the two pul­leys that guid­ed the weight’s cable are still in the tow­er. The third-order lens pro­ject­ed its light eigh­teen miles away, the present light is an elec­tri­cal bea­con orig­i­nal­ly designed for air­port use. In 1959 the building’s spaces were redis­trib­uted, a vestibule was con­struct­ed at the entrance, and a rear door was added, but the orig­i­nal brick roof remained intact. In 1960 the clock mech­a­nism was sub­sti­tut­ed by an elec­tri­cal motor. The light­house was auto­mat­ed and board­ed in 1967 but the orig­i­nal lens was used at least until 1978. The Cabo Rojo munic­i­pal­i­ty start­ed the lat­est restora­tion of the light­house in 2002 and the struc­ture cur­rent­ly opens to the pub­lic.