KEY WEST, Fla. – Restoration has been completed on Key West’s Southernmost Point marker, one of the most photographed landmarks in the Florida Keys, following damage from a fire intentionally set early New Year’s Day.
City public works staff finished repainting the marker Thursday night. It designates the southernmost land point in the continental United States, a replica of a marine navigational buoy with red, yellow, black and white stripes.
“The Southernmost Point is one of the most iconic spots in the Florida Keys,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston said. “People come from around the world in order to be photographed in front of this statue.”
Key West police have announced charges against two men suspected of torching a Christmas tree next to the landmark buoy.
David B. Perkins, Jr., 22, of Leesburg, Florida, and Skylar Rae Jacobson, 21, of Henrietta, Texas, face charges of criminal mischief with damages over $1,000. Perkins turned himself in Thursday afternoon at a Monroe County detention facility in the Upper Florida Keys.
Jacobson is also expected to turn himself in, Key West police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said.
The suspects were seen on webcams early Jan. 1. Footage shows one man dragging the tree to the location. They took several pictures on their phones of each other in front of the burning tree next to the buoy. Flames and heat left a large scar on the front of the marker.
The 20-ton concrete monument, installed beside the Atlantic Ocean in 1983, bears lettering that proclaims it stands just 90 miles from Cuba. For decades, Key West visitors have lined up for pictures before its expanse.
The damage and multi-day repair didn’t stop the flow of daytime visitors to the Southernmost Point. Public Works personnel did their restoration work at night. Damage was estimated at over $5,000.