On this small island of Sanibel, two devastating events happened within two months of each other. A fire completely destroyed The Island Cow Restaurant in August of 2022 and Hurricane Ian wiped out The Mad Hatter Restaurant at the end of September. These two tragic events left two friends wondering what their next moves will be while they wait to rebuild their iconic restaurants. Being idle isn't really their strong suit. That's when... Wickies Lighthouse Restaurant came to fruition!
We have a strong attachment to the island of Sanibel and the Sanibel Lighthouse is viewed as its crown jewel. We love to imagine the days of this island before it grew to the popular tourist attraction it is today.
During one of our daydreaming sessions, we went back in time about 150 years ago. This place wasn’t the paradise it is today. The swarms of mosquitoes, unbearable heat, summer storms, and distant mainland made it difficult to establish a home life on this island. Just down the road is Point Ybel. This land proved to be an obstacle for Cuban cattle ships and commercial fishermen navigating in the dark around Point Ybel. There was a need for a lighthouse.
In August of 1884, the Point Ybel Lighthouse was complete. The 98-foot iron structure that housed a kerosene fed flame needed a lighthouse keeper, a “Wickie.” Sanibel’s first Wickie was Dudley Richardson. For several years Dudley and his assistant, Henry Shannahan shared the daily duties of climbing tall narrow tower each afternoon while carrying a 5-gallon can of kerosene. They would trim the wick and pump the light for it to shine throughout the night. This beacon of light needed to be accompanied almost every minute through the night. Henry Shanahan was Sanibel Island’s longest serving Wickie, for he watched over Point Ybel for 23 years (1890-1913). Even though the duties of the Wickies has long been gone, their revered past still resonates with us today. The Sanibel Light has been a beacon of resilience for this island since the time is was erected and will continue to shine for years to come.