Light Station Restoration Diary
December, 2002
As written by the people working on the restoration.
Unless otherwise identified, the diary author is Linda Nenn,
co-chair of the Restoration Project


December 30, 2002

As 2002 comes to a close, the Restoration received notice that we are the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Leslie Bruhnke Fund! This grant will go toward the cost of our new storm windows.

Pete Acker of Acker Millwork in Milwaukee was on site a little over a week ago and did measurements for the storm windows. This is the third time Acker has measured for the windows as twice before their bid was considered too high. In the end we decided to go with quality. When completed, the windows will have been custom made, primed and painted with 2 finish coats of our Monterey white Pratt and Lambert acrylic latex paint. Acker will also put on the hangers and install the windows. Most of the 2 pane wood storms will have the bottom pane removable so a screen can be inserted. According to Pete this style of storm is acceptable by the National Trust to be used on historic buildings. Thanks, Nancy M., for getting the newest quote. I talked at length with Pete and maybe there's a discount/donation possible.

Rick has finished staining, sanding, varnishing, sanding, varnishing, sanding varnishing the stair rails and goosenecks for our interior front stairway. Once again Randy Lange of Lange Bros., Milwaukee donated the materials. Thank you, Randy! This latest donation would have cost us $671. I've spoken with Bob Goebel numerous times concerning the installation of the rails, newel caps and spindles. Last week I told Bob we would pay for the installation if necessary as Ron, Rick or especially I do not have the skill required to do this work. I was hoping Bob would donate his services, but don't know how this will play out. We definitely need a master carpenter for this job.

Speaking of the stairway, I've come across an interesting bit of information thanks to the assistance of Kim Mann, historic architect at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore which includes South Manitou Island Light House, Michigan (1858, rebuilt 1871/tower removed), and Bill Olson of Pottawatomie Light (1858), Rock Island, WI. The newel posts we had turned, based on photographs and measurements from Rock Island, Jeannette Lewis Dallmann's recollections of the stairs at Port Washington, and a photograph of the South Manitou Island Light newel post found in its Historic Survey book, the stairs most likely were constructed pre-fab. Each of the newels are identical! Maybe everyone knew this but me. Now I'm curious if the same stairway could have been found in the Pilot Island (1858), Green Island (1863), Grand Traverse (1858) and Michigan City Lights (1858). Unfortunately Green Island is pretty much a pile of rubble and the other 3 were converted to duplexes and the interior stairways rebuilt. For the curious at heart, this tidbit of historic architectural note. Pilot Island, Michigan City and Grand Traverse were divided lengthwise, down the middle, to form the 2 living quarters. Two story stairwells were added to the side of the buildings. The Port Washington Light Station, converted to a two family dwelling in 1934, had the new rooms and stairwell added to the back of the building, an interior center enclosed stairway cut in, creating an upper and lower unit. Perhaps our site did not permit the same conversion or perhaps the 3 decades that passed between the Pilot, Michigan City and Traverse work (circa 1901) and the Port Washington project led to a change in plans. Or, perhaps, the decommissioning of the PW Light in 1903, which allowed the tower and bearing walls to be removed in 1934, created a completely different situation. Anyone want to set me straight on this? As I've been told, the devil is in the details.

More details: all but one of the rim locks, as specified in the South Manitou Island building description (thanks again, Kim M.), have been installed by Ron Mans. I put in a call to Terry Laib (Laib Restoration, Oshkosh), in my search for old rim locks. Terry had some locks salvaged from a variety of buildings, and offered them to us at a price I couldn't refuse. Rick drove and Ron and I went along for the ride up to Oshkosh to collect our treasure. To reuse the cast iron locks, I took each and dismantled it, cleaned every little piece, stole a few parts from broken locks, chipped the layers of paint off the casings and keepers, painted each lock, reassembled the "innards," oiled them, reassembled some for a second or third time when they didn't work. Probably spent 2-3 hours on each lock but it was worth it. At least I think so. Terry, thanks so very much for your generosity. I'll return the locks I didn't use and we can settle up then.

Terry left us alone in the basement of the Wagner Opera House he is restoring and remodeling. After a tour, of course. Fantastic! Anyway, down in the basement where I went through the boxes and bins of locks, Ron and Rick went hunting. We ended up taking ALL the wainscoting we could find. Terry, I owe you big time for this and if we overstepped your generosity, you may shoot me, but only after the Light Station is finished. Okay?

Three rooms, including the Light Station kitchen, list wainscoting on the 1860 plans. We found pieces of the original wainscoting used as furring strips, etc. in the 1934 walls. Richardson's Lumber can reproduce the beaded style, but the approx. $2,300 price tag is beyond our means at the present. So....Rick is cutting and fitting the recycled wainscoting to fit. In some out of sight places, under the windows, behind the radiators, he's using some of the removed oak flooring. The width is the same and he's cut beveled edges to approximate the other boards. If I didn't confess this, I doubt any of you would notice the different. I would hope when time and money permit, we can have the original reproduced. The kitchen wainscoting was painted. The other two rooms would have had a natural, varnished finish, so these will be harder to install and match up.

Visitors continue to stop in on a regular basis even though the hours Rick, Ron and I have been putting in are anything but regular. On Saturday past, Ardy took some friends through. I took a break and was sitting outside when a head appeared around the front of the Station. Welcome to Ginger and Mick from Menasha! Spent over an hour and a half with the couple. Good excuse to lay down my caulking gun. Ginger said it took them 2 hours to find the station as their Great Lakes Lighthouses Directory said we are located at the north end of the marina. Finally got directions at George Web's.

I sent in the final report due the National Trust for the Jeffords Foundation grant we received in early 2001. $2,000 that was used to offset our architect's fees. Thanks to Jeanne Lambin of the Chicago office for assisting Mary F. and me in applying for the grant. Can't say that grant writing is one of my favorite things to do.

Here's an of two years summary of how we've managed to do so much so far. I'm not the bookkeeper/treasurer, so some of my numbers are estimates.

First: The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: Georges Calteux, Director of Sites and Monuments $100,000+ in direct contributions from individuals and businesses.

Grants $20,000 Wisconsin Engery Foundation. Two grants: $5,000 ( thanks Dan McCotter) and $15,000. $20,000 Coastal Management Grant (thanks Pat Wilborn and Mark Grams) $5,000 Thomas and Patricia O'Donnell Foundation $2,000 National Trust, Jeffords Foundation $15,000 Port Washington State Bank Grant $2,000 Port Washington Tourism Council $5,000 grant, still coming, Bruhnke Fund (thanks Kay, Mary, Nancy, Ann) $10,000 Trump Fund (Moesers, etc.)

In-kind: materials and services and discounts Wester Electric: $5,000 Greisch Plumbing: $4,000 Lange Bros. Woodwork Co, Inc.: $5,500 Tripartite, Inc. Kathleen O'Donnell architect: $5,000 Advanced Restoration: brick cleaning $5,000 Safeway, Inc.: scaffolding: $1,500 McCotter & Hansen (Dan McCotter) boilers: $1,600 Azco, Inc. Crane service: $3,500 Schaus Roofing: $2,000 Waste Management of SE Wisconsin: $600 Arnold's Environmental: $500 Kohler Company: $3,700 CD Smith: $500 Stan's Carpentry: $1,400 Allied Insulation: $760 Paulus Construction, masonry: $1,400 Schmitz Ready Mix: $250 Stallion Doors, St. Cloud Minnesota: $10,000 FedEx: $3,000 Jackson Concrete, Inc.: $2,900 Dean Brookins, drywall plastering: $500 City of Port Washington: $825 Brite 'n All Paint: $600 Home Depot, Milwaukee: $250 Germantown Iron and Steel: $2,000 Milwaukee Electric Tool, Inc.: $250 Cooks Masonry & Carpentry: $1,500 Neuen's Lumber: 15% donation on final total of materials Drew's Hardware: 10% discount Richardson's Lumber: $500 "The sod lady": $500 Laib Restoration, Oshkosh: (cost of reproducing door locks/wainscoting: $5,000-$7,000 saved!) The Radford Company, Oshkosh: the door connection...Jackie...priceless! Jeff Shooks: original lantern plans: again, PRICELESS!!

Under $100 value but still greatly appreciated. Oostburg Lumber Kohl Floor Covering J&H Heating Superior Special Services, Inc. Poull Hardware Gordon's Antiques Bob Hoffman, Port Antiques

THE VOLUNTEERS!!!!! 5,600+ documented hours at the Light Station Ron Mans: over 1,600 hours Rick Smith: over 1,600 hours Lighthouse Linda: over 1,500 hours Randy T., Beth T., Larry Foust, Nancy Simpson, Dean Shaver, Lloyd Croatt, Loschel Pierringer, Pat Dederich, Francis Pierron, Paul Hansen, Lou Tackes, Jon Westphal, Pat Wilborn, Dee M., Allison M., Damon, Mary F., Ardy A., Doug A., Marilyn N., Donna H., Jim Burmesch., Jim F., Tom Hudson., the "Luxembourgers of Port, Fredonia, Belgium," Habitat for Humanity, "the Terrace Drive Bunch" and the many wonderful others that have slipped my mind for the moment as my eyes are glazing over from staring at this screen. I hope I haven't offended anyone for missing your name. Not intentional.

So, Keep the Lights Burning and Happy New Year! And, if you need that one last deduction for your income taxes, write out a check to the Port Washington Light Station Restoration Fund, P.O. Box 491, Port Washington, WI 53074

We're not finished yet!!! About $30,000 to go.


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This page updated Monday, April 14, 2003