The Fog Signal Building Rises Again!

Why rebuild it?

We accomplished a great victory last year by putting the beautiful sweeping  beam back in the Harbor Beach Lighthouse!  Now one final part remains to recapture what our Lighthouse was: the loud full-throated fog signal and the “fog shed” which represented it.

The fog building was removed by the Coast Guard as it continually dispensed with anything no longer necessary. Basically everything that was in it is now in your cell phone! GPS made having a foghorn unnecessary, since everyone navigating a ship or small boat can now see exactly where they are. Most of the space inside was taken up with the equipment to power the two trumpets which sent the lifesaving wave of sound out onto the lake.  But the Fog Building is still part of the way Harbor Beach experienced the Lighthouse, and as you will see below, it will be a necessary part of making the overall preservation program sustainable.

In recent years we’ve filled the lighthouse with all sorts of displays in addition to the furniture consistent with the time period of the 1920’s when it was still operated by the USLHS (US Lighthouse Service) with families as lightkeepers. We see the rebuilt building as the last step in restoring the lighthouse as per our agreement with the City and National Park Service.

But what will really make it exciting is that we will move most of that exhibit material out into the Fog Building, returning the Lighthouse itself to the authentic living quarters with just a workdeck and lantern room above, galley below and the two bedrooms in between. There will be new displays such as interpretive panels showing the history of the harbor and lighthouse as well as an exhibit about the old compressed air forghorn and a button you can push to hear a recording of it!

This will add greatly to the tour experience, and become an additional attraction along with the new lens and existing displays. Tour income is what provides us with the funds to maintain and improve the lighthouse. A better experience will result in higher numbers of tours and thus income to work with.

rendering-interiorHere is just a rough depiction of what the interior might look like with exhibits and interpretive panels showing the maritime history of the harbor and surrounding area. We plan a robust experience with many offerings, including that recording of the foghorn!:

What did it look like?

Early 1900 version of fog signal building

Here is a picture that is guiding our project to align with the early 1900’s that gives you a feel of what it looked like with the fog signal building still on the platform. Note the two chimneys for boilers that fed steam to the fog “whistles” you see behind them.


winter shot with recent trumpetsNote the more recent “trumpets” run by compressed air in this winter shot, the last version of a fog horn before the building was removed. These made the “eeeyoo-eeeeeeeeeeyoo” signal we all grew up with:

Our Goals:

Our restoration plan and current status requires three main points of emphasis which shape our efforts:

  • 1900-1915 is the time period for visuals and furnishings
  • Our status as a “Private Aid to Navigation” means we need to keep the current color scheme consistent with the “daymark” status it has on the chart listings, so the current exterior color scheme will remain as is. The chimney will not be rebuilt.
  • The voluminous mechanisms that created the fog signal will not be needed, but we are exploring ways to bring back that wonderful sound in the exhibit room!

Funds needed:

Society funds:            $15,000

General $ raised:        $35,000

Quiet phase:              $25,000

Project cost:              $75,000

We are currently in the quiet phase for early funding, and the Society has already contributed funds to do the foundation and purchase the lumber. We propose raising the $35,000 balance by offering donors a similar unique way to our Replica Fresnel 4th Order Lens project. Donors can participate directly in this exciting new project for years to come by sponsoring actual elements of the building and exhibits! We will provide acknowledgment panels or plaques on each item in or on the new building. There are three categories of gifts based on the construction and programming of the building as follows:

  • Platinum/6@$2,500 each/$15,000: This level includes 2 roof panels and 4 exterior walls.
  • Gold/8@$1,500 each/$12,000: This level includes 5 windows and 3 doors.
  • Silver/6@$500 each/$3,000: Interior finish work with a new rest room for our guests!
  • Bronze/100@$50 each/$5,000: Framing lumber to build the structure.

TOTAL $35,000

Additional Information:

Click here to select a sponsorship levelHow do I Donate?: You can donate online by clicking on the icon on the left.

download-1Or, download the form and send it along with a check to our Treasurer, Glen Townley. Mailing instructions are included on the form.

Each donor whether an individual, group or family, will be recognized on the actual item sponsored and on an additional informational sign on shore at the gift shop.

Gifts are Deductible: The Harbor Beach Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc. is a recognized 501 c 3 non profit, and as such all gifts are fully deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law.

Questions: We appreciate your continued support of the lighthouse restoration project, and please let one of our campaign co chairs below know if you have any questions or submit your question on line here. We’ll promptly reply.

“Fog Signal Building Rises Again!” Fundraising Committee:

Bill Rands, Pam Semp, Skip Kadar, Buzz Hoerr,