Grants awarded to preserve lighthouses

Grand Haven South Pier. Courtesy Mike Borstler

Two West Michigan lighthouses will undergo renovations to preserve their history, courtesy of grants totaling $100,000.

The city of Grand Haven and Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (SPLKA) received Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) grants from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Funding for the program is from the sale of specialty Save Our Lights license plates.

“Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and these beacons stand tall as icons of our shoreline communities,” said Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer Mark Rodman. “As a result of enduring decades of harsh weather, our lighthouses require constant maintenance and attention. Our lighthouse preservation grants help repair and restore these beacons, so they can connect us with our maritime heritage for years to come.

“Thanks to those residents who pay a little extra for a lighthouse license plate, we are able to award grants that help preserve these iconic Michigan structures for the long term.”

Grand Haven received a $60,000 grant from MLAP, and the SHPO matched the amount with a sum of $76,409. The city will use the funds to hire a contractor to rehabilitate the Grand Haven South Pier entrance and inner lights. The proposed work includes the repair of the exterior concrete wall and deck surfaces; restoring the exterior concrete stairs; restoring the concrete curb and installing new metal flashing and repainting.

“The South Pier Lights in Grand Haven continue their transformation to be among the most well-preserved and accessible lights on the Great Lakes,” said Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis. “The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy continues its partnership work of raising funds and awareness to make sure these treasures are the best they can be. The grant from the MLAP will supplement funds raised locally and are the next step in a multiyear approach to complete preservation and, soon, opening the lights regularly to public enjoyment. This grant will help restore the concrete deck and railings of the entrance light, which is among the most recognizable and familiar lights on the Great Lakes. The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy is forever grateful for the support provided by SHPO and the people of the state of Michigan.”

Big Sable Point Light Station. Courtesy Mike Borstler

SPLKA received a grant of $40,000. The SHPO matched that amount with a gift of $20,000.

The association will use the grant to hire a contractor to complete a structure report for the Big Sable Point Light Station in Ludington. The report is a component of preservation planning, which provides information about a property’s history, documents existing conditions and addresses management goals and rehabilitation priorities for the use or re-use of the property.

“The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association is so pleased to receive this MLAP grant to help us achieve a major strategic goal of funding a historic structure report for the Big Sable Point Lighthouse,” said SPLKA Executive Director Peter Manting. “We are looking forward to working with the State Historic Preservation Office and DNR Parks and Recreation to get this done. It is exciting to be able to share this with our membership, as a majority of our members purchase the lighthouse license plate, and they will be thrilled to know that their funds are being granted this year to SPLKA.”

Michigan has over 120 lighthouses. Many are open for tours, and others are home to bed-and-breakfast lodgings or museums.

“Michigan’s iconic lighthouses offer something for every traveler — from lighthouse enthusiasts to history buffs to curious tourists looking to get out there and experience one of Pure Michigan’s many gems,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the state’s official agency for the promotion of tourism. “Programs like the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program are extremely important in supporting our tourism efforts across the state, and we’re pleased that these two one-of-a-kind coastal treasures will soon be restored for all to enjoy.”

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