SOUTH HAVEN — The historic lighthouse that has been a beacon along the Lake Michigan shore at South Haven for more than a century has been assured a lasting life.
The Historical Association of South Haven (HASH) is announcing the successful completion of a fundraising initiative which sought $300,000 to finance restoration of the 112-year-old lighthouse at the end of the south pier entrance to the Black River.
The initiative has raised $315,000 to date, according to campaign chair Becky Burkert. The amount raised represents gifts from an estimated 1,500 donors.
“The financial support we have received from the South Haven community, visitors, out-of-state residents, businesses and organizations has been unbelievable,” said Burkert. “When we first started fundraising at the end of February we thought it would take at least a year, probably more, to reach the goal, let alone surpass it.”
The goal was achieved through a variety of means. High school reunion classes chipped-in. Donation canisters in downtown businesses were filled with coins and dollar bills. Fund raisers involved several local organizations. Volunteers were at the end of the pier many days over the summer months seeking donations.
South Haven Mayor Robert Burr expressed the city’s appreciation:
The original lighthouse, a wooden structure, was constructed in 1872. It was replaced by the current steel lighthouse in 1903. The lantern portion is believed to be from the original lighthouse. The catwalk leading to the lighthouse is one of only four that survive in Michigan. In 2012 ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to HASH with the stipulation that it be maintained.
The new owners quickly determined that inside corrosion was threatening the base, seams, windows and stairs. The exterior contains peeling lead-based paint that must be removed.
Restoration started this fall with a focus on the interior. Exterior work will commence next spring.
There is still an opportunity to support the project. HASH is selling personalized bricks that will form a walkway leading to the south pier. The purchase is considered a tax deductible gift to the lighthouse project. Information on the brick program can be found at southhavenlight.org.
The committee that spearheaded the fund raising effort included Ed Appleyard, Suzie Blair, Dick Brunvand, Becky Burkert, Joe Foster, Roger Horton, Linda LaRocque, James Ollgaard, Tom Renner and Kathy Wagaman.
Dave Varney of Century Builders MI is the project manager. The primary contractor is Mihm Enterprises, Inc. of Hamilton, Mich. The City of South Haven and South Haven Board of Public Works has provided project expertise.
A community celebration will be held next summer to mark the completion of the restoration project.