Founded in 1890, Point San Luis Lighthouse has saved many lives in its time, and remains a beacon over San Luis Bay. The two-story lightkeeper’s building, which many consider an example of prairie Victorian or prairie Gothic style, was designed by Paul J. Pelz. Many of Pelz’s lighthouses were built along the Pacific Coast during the 1800s. Two include lighthouses identical to Point San Luis at Table Bluff near Humboldt and Ballast Point near San Diego. Of the three, Point San Luis is the only remaining lighthouse of its design.
Before the lighthouse was built, in 1873 John Harford completed his 540-foot-long pier, extending it to 1,500 feet in 1876. The Harford Pier ran a narrow gauge railroad to Avila Beach and beyond, making this area a hub of passenger travel and commerce.