After two generations of restoration, our Harbor Beach Lighthouse stands proud! The Society has spent 37 years restoring our lighthouse. The list of projects includes many that were capital intensive, including the Fresnel lens installation and rebuilding the Fog Signal Building. In all cases, besides any specific technical expertise we couldn’t source internally, everything we’ve done has been with volunteer labor that not only saved us money we didn’t need to raise, but we believe the work was superior just because we enjoy a wealth of talent available to us in the area who rally around our local team leaders when needed. It has been a joy for all of us to honor your donations by doing the very best work we can while keeping our costs as low as possible, all while adhering to the best practices of lighthouse restoration.
2019 marks the transition from a final annual capital request for restoration. After this one big push, we can all take a breath, and rejoice that now our Lighthouse will not need major structural capital for ten to twenty years! The next phase will focus on programming the museum displays in the new Fog Shed, which will not be capital intensive, and solidifying the tour and group visit program which will provide us with a yearly income. Also, after all this effort we must think about strengthening the endowment, which involves ongoing gifts and remembering the Lighthouse in our wills so it can be shining the light for generations to come.
COMPLETING THE LIGHTHOUSE RESTORATION:
Our lighthouse is a vertical ship, sitting out in the rugged year round weather of Lake Huron where conditions can be brutal. We’ve spent a lot of time and money in conjunction with USCG funds improving the structural integrity of the buildings and the underwater crib so it would be in great shape for years to come.
Last summer we began addressing the rapidly deteriorating condition of the exterior of the lighthouse by focusing on the bricks, the steel “ice skirt” around the base and the roof, lantern and gallery room exteriors:
We are at the end of our multi year capital restoration program, with a final summer phase of stripping the white coating and windows of the bulk of the lighthouse tower and recoating it with the same 2 part epoxy Imron with a 50 to 75 year life used last summer to refinish the upper decks. We will also finish the interior of the fog signal building in the spring and open with our first exhibits this summer!
FOG SIGNAL BUILDING DISPLAY SPACE:
The vision for re-construction of the Harbor Beach Lighthouse Fog Signal Building was to restore the lighthouse “campus” to the 1920’s era as required by our National Park Service transfer agreement. In doing so this would provide space for the Society to expand the historical and educational experience of the guests who tour the lighthouse.
The interior of the building measures approximately 22 feet by 31 feet providing almost 700 square feet of additional exhibit area. There is now a restroom for our guests and volunteers and a maintenance storage room. The remaining space will be an interpretive display area. The new floor was installed last summer and the walls and ceilings will be completed this spring.
The displays will feature the Harbor Beach Lighthouse and the rich maritime history of the Harbor Beach area.
Topics to be featured are photographs of the lighthouse through the years and the history of the Life Saving Service and the United States Coast Guard in Harbor Beach.
Other nautical related displays include the need for a harbor of refuge at this site and the story of the construction of the harbor and lighthouse from 1874 to 1885, the Storm of 1913, the sinking of the Daniel J Morrell, harvesting ice from the harbor, commercial fishing, passenger ships and other commercial ship traffic in the harbor.
We are also excited to be installing actual operating fog whistles and boiler exhaust stacks on the roof of the building that will use compressed air instead of the original steam so we can greet our tour boat as it arrives. In addition to the whistles, inside will be a display of the later era diesel era driven foghorn, the one we grew up with, and a recording of the “ooh wahh, oooooohhh wah” that visitors can hear with the touch of a button!
We have also reached out to the Port Huron Museum, the Coast Guard Historical Office and individuals with historical nautical collections. All have been agreeable to providing items on a loan basis. These items can be rotated to provide our guests with a fresh experience and to promote return visits.
NEW GIFT SHOP AT THE MARINA:
Tours and sales at the gift shop are our main source of recurring revenue in addition to memorial and other gifts which support ongoing maintenance issues. Stop down at the Marina on Saturday mornings when tours are open (book in advance at next here) and select from a wide range of lighthouse items as gifts or for your own home or cottage!
2019 CAPITAL FUNDS NEEDED:
The Society will complete these projects throughout this year:
Fog whistles and compressor $4,500
Exterior restoration completion $30,000
Total budget $46,500
Lighthouse Society contribution $13,000
Huron County Community Foundation Grant $2,500
Left to raise $31,000
All donors will be featured on a plaque in the fog signal building:
2 Fresnel Leadership Gifts $1,500
4 Lantern Room Gifts $1,000
6 Lightkeeper Gifts $500
10 Foghorn Gifts $250
Bill Rands, Fundraising Chair, Buzz Hoerr, Board Chair, Pam Semp, Co Chair, Skip Kadar, President