By ABBEY HAUSWIRTH
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - For more than 100 years, the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse has been a beacon of hope. But years of harsh winters have caused the facility to fall into disrepair. A new campaign is seeking to restore the structure to its original glory.
The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is pictured. The lighthouse was built in 1866. Museum officials are hoping to address many of the structural issues with the lighthouse, as well as painting the building back to its original red color. (Photos courtesy of the Marquette Maritime Museum)
The Paint the Lighthouse Red Campaign began more than a year ago when the Marquette Maritime Museum received a grant from Save America's Treasures. The SAT grant contributes matching funds up to $180,000 for money raised by the museum. The museum has raised $20,000 so far. Restoration on the structure, as well as raising the money, must be completed by May 2014.
"We have a list of projects we want to accomplish," said Carrie Fries, director of the museum.
Top priorities include a new roof, brickwork to ensure the structure is stable and painting the lighthouse.
"People laugh and say 'It looks more pink than red' ... knowing that it should be that brilliant red color, we want to bring that back to our community," Fries said.
Ken Czapski, of Sanders & Czapski Associates, PLLC in Marquette, will be the predominant restoration architect. Czapski has made a name for himself in lighthouse restoration and in previous years has worked on the DeTour Reef Lighthouse and the Whitefish Point Light Station, among others.
There will be a bidding process for the project that Fries said she expects to take place in the next couple of months.
Fries added that there are many ways to donate to the cause. People can stop into the museum and donate in person, or have an information packet mailed to them. Another option is to purchase a lighthouse brick for $50 or $100, which will help build a pathway to the lighthouse.
"I want to encourage people to come to the museum and take a lighthouse tour for themselves to see what condition the lighthouse is currently in," Fries said.
The lighthouse was first erected in 1866 and is one of the oldest buildings in Marquette. More than 10,000 people visit the building each year.
"I think it's critical for it to survive," Fries said. "That lighthouse is a symbol of our community and we want to make sure it's something that is up to par to represent our city for years to come."
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.