Last week was a big one in terms of lighthouse events around the country. The ones I know of included the southeast lighthouse stamps first day of issue event at Tybee Island, GA, the transfer of Cape Lookout lighthouse to the National Park Service, Harbor Fest in South Haven, Michigan, which happens to have coincided with the 100th anniversary of a pier light at South Haven, and, the subject of this piece, the transfer of the ownership of the Pointe aux Barques lighthouse to Huron County by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Thursday, June 12th. The event was well attended by Huron County officials, members of the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society (PaBLS), as well as numerous local residents and visitors.
Sunrise the morning of the transfer ceremony was beautiful, the sun coming up through scattered clouds out on the horizon over Lake Huron. A little before 7 AM, the red and white striped tent for those attending the ceremony was put up in case it rained. People started to gather around 1 PM for the transfer ceremony that began at 2 PM. People toured the museum and went up the tower as far as public access is generally allowed. By a little before 2 PM, almost all of the chairs under the tent were occupied for the beginning of the ceremony.
The Pointe aux Barques lighthouse is nearing its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2007. The lighthouse tower and a separate dwelling were commissioned in 1847 and went into service in 1848 but were subsequently torn down, having weathered the harsh winters of Michigan’s thumb rather poorly. The present tower and dwelling were built on the site in 1857. Through extensive research, it was determined that the lighthouse’s original Fresnel lens is now housed in a museum in nearby Huron City. The lighthouse was automated in 1958 and continues in service.
John Hunt, chairman of the Huron County road commission welcomed those attending the ceremony, introduced the other county commissioners, and then Judy Burkhard, the Director of the PaBLHS. Judy introduced the other members of the Lighthouse Society attending. The Lighthouse Society was formed to help to restore and preserve the tower and museum looking forward toward the 150th anniversary of the lighthouse in 2007.
Chris Hanson and Jim Dryden from the BLM’s Milwaukee, WI office were attending to present the Land Patent for the lighthouse, which was accepted by John Hunt on behalf of Huron County. The county very graciously later gave the Land Patent to the Lighthouse Society to be on permanent display in the Lighthouse Museum, where it now hangs.
Carl Osentoski, of the Huron County Economic Development Corporation and Executive Director and Chairman of the Huron County Community Foundation was next on the program. An archeological dig during May, 2003, located the original foundation of the lighthouse; Osentoski presented the PaBLS with a check from the Charles and Judy Weeks Fund to help defray costs of the archeological work. Judy Burkhard accepted the check on behalf of the PaBLS and, in turn, presented Osentoski with a check to establish a endowment fund through the foundation for the perpetuity of the lighthouse. In addition, Judy Burkhard also presented Osentoski with an 11x14 color print of the lighthouse for permanent display in the Secretary of State’s office in Bad Axe, Michigan.
Don Brown from Congresswoman Candice Miller’s office attended on her behalf and spoke briefly before John Hunt concluded the ceremony to allow those who hadn’t had the opportunity to tour the lighthouse museum. In his closing remarks he noted that the restoration and preservation of the Pointe aux Barques lighthouse will be a challenge that he was confident that the county, with the assistance of the Lighthouse Society, would be capable of meeting.
Matted archival copies of the print presented to the Secretary of State’s Office and several others are available for sale through PaBLS, with all proceeds from sales of the prints going to support the restoration of the lighthouse, can be ordered through the Lighthouse Society’s Gift Shop on the organization’s webpage:
Larger versions of the images available as matted prints as well as other images of the Pointe aux Barques lighthouse can also be viewed on line on the author’s website via the following, shortened link:
This story appeared in the
August 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
All contents copyright © 1995-2023 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.