Key West’s iconic southernmost point landmark has been restored after vandals set it ablaze on New Year’s Day.
Friday (Jan. 7) Key West Public Works staff announced that they’d put the finishing touches on the red, black, and yellow concrete landmark. The restorations were completed on Thursday evening.
According to WPLG in Miami, the city began to repair the landmark the same day as the arson.
Key West City Manager Patti McLauchlin originally estimated that the repairs would cost at least $5,000, with both labor and supplies included. And according to historian David Sloan, the landmark only cost $910.17 to make before its dedication ceremony on September 10, 1983.
The 20-ton monument, which sits beside the Atlantic Ocean, proclaims that Cuba lies exactly 90 miles away. And for over 3 decades, travelers have made it a point to photograph the buoy while visiting Key West.
“The Southernmost Point is one of the most iconic spots in the Florida Keys,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston said following the incident. “People come from around the world in order to be photographed in front of this statue.”
Public Works personnel shared that visitors still flooded the landmark despite the damages. And they added that they completed all the repairs after hours.
Two Men Charged in the Fire of Key West’s Southernmost Point Landmark
22-year-old David Perkins Jr. and 21-year-old Skylar Rae Jacobsen have been charged after setting fire to the southernmost point landmark. So far, the motives behind the arson are not clear.
On January 6th, WPLG reported that Perkins, of Leesburg, FL, turned himself in to authorities. Jacobsen, a Henrietta, Texas, resident, has reportedly made arrangements to surrender to authorities within the next few days. Both men face felony charges of criminal mischief resulting in property damage
Around 3:30 am on January 1st, several surveillance cameras captured one man dragging a Christmas tree to the buoy’s site. Then, he and another man set the tree on fire. The flames burned a 3 feet wide by 7 feet tall mark on the front of the landmark.
Authorities reported that one man was on the lookout while the other set the fire. Police also added that the vandals used their cellphones to take selfies in front of the burning tree. And when a car drove by, they hid.
Once the car was out of sight, the men returned to the scene for one last picture before fleeing.
Police said that the Key West Fire Department arrived at the site—which is located at the corner of South and Whitehead—shortly after the fire was set. But by that time, the tree was only a pile of charred embers.