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Updated December 26, 2007


The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance, an affiliation of Michigan lighthouse stewards and stakeholders, will be holding a conference on lighthouse preservation, June 11-13, 2008. Conference sessions and panels will cover all aspects of owning, restoring, and preserving historic lighthouses. Themes include economic development, technical assistance, moisture control, insurance insights/problems, and organizational development. For those interested in obtaining a lighthouse or those that are already involved in lighthouse preservation, this conference will be an educational must. The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act transfer process will be briefly covered for new stewards. 

Speakers will represent a wide range of individuals, corporate, private business, federal and state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. our technical speaker program will consist of major issues facing lighthouse organizations, whether it be finance, management, gift shops, or technical restoration topics such as moisture control and peeling paint. Industry experts will be giving us their advice.

More information will be published in the months to come. The web site address for the conference is Please reserve the date now so you can plan on attending this advanced topic lighthouse conference. For more information or questions on the conference and to get more information e-mailed to you periodically, contact Sally Frye at (231) 590-4004 or by e-mail at


"Ladies of the Lights" Michigan’s Women Lightkeepers featured at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame.

Lighthouse keeping in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a rugged life of long hours and hard work punctuated by periods of real peril. Not a profession for the faint-hearted, it was thought to be unsuitable employment for the “fairer sex.” But at least 50 women in Michigan proved the naysayers wrong. Acting as both assistants and full-fledged keepers, these women served the sailing community with distinction for more than 100 years—often juggling their official duties with the demands of raising a family. And more than one woman gave her life for the Lighthouse Service. Stirring stories of dedication and determination may be found in this new exhibit, as well as hands-on activities for young and old!

Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame

213 W. Main St., Lansing

Phone: 517-484-1880


Pointe Aux Barques Life Saving Service 1880 Disaster Presentation

A slide presentation telling the story of the tragic loss of life of all but one of the surfboat crew members, Jerome Kiah the station keeper, in a rescue attempt will be presented at the Huron City Museum complex on Saturday June 16, 2007 at 1:00PM by Debbie Jett. This is based off the research by Debbie regarding the disaster and the life of the crew members. Much of this information has never been published or researched and will be an informative seminar. Pointe Aux Barques and the Huron City Museum complex is located in Michigan's thumb and for more information contact Debbie Jett at 773-327-6881 or via e-mail at or call Huron City Museums at 989-428-4123.


These grants effect lighthouse projects in 2007.

'Save Our Lights' License Plates Provide $233,300 for Projects at Eight of Michigan's Historic Lighthouses

Contact:  Denise Sachau, SHPO (517) 373-1904
Agency: History, Arts and Libraries

Dec. 8, 2006

Department of History, Arts and Libraries Director Dr. William Anderson and Michigan Historical Center Director Sandra Clark today announced $233,300 in lighthouse preservation grants to eight organizations for 2007, pending approval of the State Administrative Board.


The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program, administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, is funded by proceeds from the sale of the "Save our Lights" license plate.  Lighthouse grants are given to state and local governments or nonprofit organizations that are maintaining or restoring lighthouses.  Recipients must provide 50 percent of the grant award as matching funds.  Since the program's inception in 2000, more than $985,000 has been awarded.


"Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the nation," said Anderson.  "Every Save Our Lights license plate purchased helps ensure that these Great Lakes icons - an important part of Michigan's history - are safeguarded for future generations to enjoy."


"The lighthouse grant recipients demonstrate incredible commitment," added Clark.  "We must keep in mind that the people rehabilitating lighthouses work in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable, much like the keepers of long ago.  Their dedication results in the preservation of some of Michigan's most unique and picturesque structures."


The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program was established to assist in the preservation, rehabilitation and protection of lighthouses in Michigan.  The program arose from a concern about the disposal of over 70 lighthouses in Michigan by the U.S. Coast Guard.


Fiscal Year 2007 Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) grant recipients include:


  • $34,000 - Charlevoix Historical Society - Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse
    With its second MLAP grant, the Charlevoix Historical Society will address moisture problems by repairing the roof, windows and doors; add drainage holes; replace two windows; install louvered grates in the floor; install metal flashing where needed; and repair warping steel plate skin on the exterior.

  • $30,000 - DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society - DeTour Reef Light Station
    The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society has received $75,000 in Michigan Lighthouse Assistance grants in four previous awards.  The society has already completed a major rehabilitation of the lighthouse and will, with the 2007 grant, replace a second "twin" deck crane.

  • $40,000 - Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum - Grand Traverse Light Station
    The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum will use the grant funds to waterproof the lighthouse's stone foundation; add a stone maintenance strip around the foundation; repair/replace rotting floor joists; waterproof the crawl space under the lighthouse keeper's kitchen; insulate pipes in the basement; replace the septic system and drain field; and replace the sidewalks that will be removed for the project.  This is the museum's second MLAP grant.

  • $27,900 - Township of Grosse Ile - Grosse Ile North Channel Front Range Light
    Grant funds will be used to remove and replace the copper upper deck and railing on the lighthouse tower; scrape and paint the tower; and replace glass in the lantern room.

  • $40,000 - Gull Rock Lightkeepers - Gull Rock Light Station
    The Gull Rock Lightkeepers received a $6,700 grant in 2006 for plans and specifications for a roof replacement and patching.  The 2007 funds will be used to pay for a new roof on the lighthouse and detached outhouse.  This is the lightkeepers' second MLAP grant.

  • $3,400 - Keweenaw Land Trust, Inc. - Manitou Island Light Station
    Grant funds will pay for repair and replacement of security panels on the Fog Signal Building windows.  The land trust received a $10,400 award in 2004.

  • $40,000 - County of Benzie - Point Betsie Light Station
    This will be the fifth grant awarded to Benzie County for the rehabilitation of the Point Betsie Light Station.  The $40,000 grant will pay for interior work in the lighthouse building.  Previous awards have funded exterior work on the out buildings and plans and specifications for the interior restoration.  With this grant the county's MLAP grant awards total $152,400.

  • $18,000 - Michigan Maritime Museum - South Haven South Pier Light Station
    Grant funds will pay for a roof replacement and new downspouts on the keeper's dwelling.  This is the museum's second MLAP grant award.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) assists in the identification, rehabilitation and interpretation of Michigan's historic resources.  SHPO is a division of the Michigan Historical Center, part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL).  Dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity, HAL also includes the Library of Michigan, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Film Office.  For more information, visit


April 3rd, 2007

Tours feature Great Lakes lighthouses


From Cheboygan Tribune Staff Writer

MACKINAW CITY - A variety of lighthouse-related excursions on the Great Lakes will be offered by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association during the 2007 season.

Multiple trips will depart from Mackinaw City. Among them are two separate day-trips to the St. Helena Island Lighthouse for lunch on June 27 and July 11, two separate overnight schooner trips to St. Helena Island on July 26-27 and July 28-29 and a two-day St. Mary's River lighthouse cruise on Aug. 27-28.

Other tours offered this season include a Lake Michigan lighthouse cruise departing from Leland, Mich., a Port Huron/St. Clair River lighthouse cruise departing from Port Huron, Mich. and a two-day tour of lighthouses in the Buffalo, N.Y. area.

As a registered non-profit group based out of Mackinaw City, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association uses a portion of the income resulting from these tours in hands-on lighthouse restoration and preservation.

“In arranging these tours, we try to create unique experiences for those with an interest in Great Lakes lighthouses and history,” said Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association Executive Director Terry Pepper. “We include views of lighthouses which are either difficult or impossible for the public to see or visit, combined with expert narration, thereby providing insight into the histories of the lighthouses themselves and to the integral role they played in the growth of the Midwest and the United States in general. As such, the tours provide the double benefit of providing a meaningful experience to our guests, while helping restore the lighthouses we all love.”

Pepper noted that the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association is dedicated to the restoration of Great Lakes lighthouses, preserving the memories of the individuals who served at them and fostering a new generation of preservationists to ensure that lighthouses continue to stand for many future generations to experience and enjoy.

“To this end, we have invested almost 20 years in our restoration of the St. Helena Island lighthouse, on an isolated island in Lake Michigan, seven miles west of the Mackinac Bridge,” Pepper explained. “Much of this work was undertaken by Boy Scouts and Association volunteers. These Scouts not only gained a unique experience in the hands-on restoration, but they obtained what we hope will be a long-lasting love for the lighthouse, which we hope will draw them back in later years to carry on the work we started.”

The group also owns a lighthouse in Cheboygan, on the shore of Lake Huron, Pepper added.

“We took ownership of the Cheboygan River Front Range lighthouse in 2004 through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act,” Pepper said. “After completion of a professional engineering study of the lighthouse last year, we learned that there has been significant deterioration since the building was erected in 1880. The total cost of restoration is expected to be close to $200,000. Clearly, that's not the kind of money a non-profit group has languishing in its bank account, and with federal and state funding drying up, we must seek alternate ways to fund our restoration and ongoing preservation effort. The income from these lighthouse excursions plays a critical role in this effort.”

For more information on tours or for additional information on the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association in general, call the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association office at 231-436-5580, send an e-mail to or visit the group's Web site at on the Internet.


Excerpts taken from original press release concerning Michigan Holland Harbor Lighthouse Transfer

Office of the Secretary
February 8, 2007 Contacts:
Joan Moody,

Holland Harbor Lighthouse Transfer Announcement

Secretary Kempthorne Announces Transfer of 36th Lighthouse under 2000 Preservation Law; Holland Harbor Lighthouse 12th in Michigan to Be Protected


WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that he recently signed official papers that will transfer Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light in Michigan to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission.

Dubbed “Big Red,” the fire-engine-colored lighthouse is a well known sight where Black Lake (Macatawa Lake) empties into Lake Michigan. In fact, its twin-gabled roof, reflecting the Dutch influence in the city of Holland, Mich., makes it as much of an icon as the city’s windmills and tulips.

With today's announcement, Holland Harbor will become the 36th lighthouse the department and its National Park Service have protected by recommending it for transfer from the U.S. Coast Guard to other agencies and nonprofits under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission has cared for the lighthouse since the Coast Guard announced plans to abandon it in the 1970s.

“The Department of the Interior commends the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission for its three decades of stewardship for this lighthouse,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “Partnerships like this one are protecting lighthouses from coast to coast. They are the best way to preserve our history and build our future.”

This lighthouse joins a colorful group of lighthouses on the West and East coasts and in the Great Lakes region—ranging from Sentinel Light in Alaska to St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida to Sturgeon Point Light in Michigan. In fact, 12 of the 36 lighthouses are in Michigan. (See the list at end of this release.)

The Holland Harbor Light, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has played an integral part in the city’s history. When seeking a location for settlement in 1847, the Reverend A. C. Van Raalte and his Dutch emigrant followers were attracted by the potential of Black Lake as a harbor. The first lighthouse built at this location was a wooden structure constructed in 1872. The present structure was erected in 1907 and “Big Red” was automated in 1932. When the Coast Guard recommended that it be closed, citizens organized the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission to preserve and restore the historic landmark. The commission has been operating it under a Coast Guard lease.

Like other lighthouses around the country, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse was no longer wanted by the Coast Guard after the fading of commercial boat traffic and automation. A number of other lighthouses, not as well known as Big Red, were headed for abandonment or surplus.

In 2000, however, enactment of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act provided a new way to protect such lighthouses by enabling the Department of the Interior to recommend the transfer of historic lighthouses (at no cost) to federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations and community development organizations.

The law places preservation of the historic light station first. In cooperation with the Coast Guard and the General Services Administration, the department and its National Park Service are working to find the best stewards for long-term preservation of lighthouses.

Nearly 300 lighthouses nationwide have been identified as eligible for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, so the Secretary will be considering applications for new ownership of other lighthouses in the future.

For more information about the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and these lighthouses, application deadlines, eligibility and other information, go to or email

The Department of the Interior has recommended the Michigan lighthouses on the accompanying list for transfer since 2002; some have already been transferred and others are still in process.

Charlevoix South Pierhead Light - to the City of Charlevoix, Michigan
Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse - to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers
Detour Reef Light - to the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society
Fort Gratiot Light Station - to the City of Port Huron, Michigan
Gull Rock Light - to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy
Harbor Beach Lighthouse - to the City of Harbor Beach, Michigan
Holland Harbor Lighthouse – to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission
Ludington North Breakwater Light - to the City of Ludington, Michigan
Manitou Island Light - to the Keweenaw Land Trust
Munising Station Front and Rear Range Lights - to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
St. James (Beaver Harbor) Light - to St. James Township
Sturgeon Point Light – to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Alcona Historical Society


If any lighthouse group has any special promotional events coming up please e-mail us and we will post them here.

Copyright © 2001-2007 Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/10/08.