Light Station Restoration Diary
July, 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

July 10, 2002

The dedication has come and gone, a resounding success. Thanks to everyone that put their time and talents into play.

The flurry of volunteers has come and gone. Its back to Rick, Larry and me. I heard Ron Mans is back in town. Just in time to install about 15 interior doors and build the jams for each door. Dean Shaver has indicated he will help.

An egregious error was made in the Recognition Dinner Program. The amount of Wester Electric's donation of materials and labor was hugely understated. Dean Wester, owner of Wester Electric, contributed approximately $10,000 of his $13,000 bill to the Restoration Project. If the opportunity presents itself, please let Dean know how much we appreciate his help. Dean was the first contractor to step forward and offer his assistance on the Restoration Project and the most generous.

While the outside restoration of the Light Station looks complete, that is far from the case. 1. All woodwork and siding must receive a second coat of paint. 2. Storm windows and screens need to be purchased. Figure $150 per window. The windows must be painted. Just a primer coat has been applied. In their haste, the volunteers of the last few days prior to the dedication painted the windows shut. Each double hung has to be freed with a razor blade, so the windows may be opened. All the window and door framing must be caulked to seal air leaks. Weather stripping has to be installed on the exterior door jams. 3. A handicap ramp has to be designed and built for our new west entrance to the Light Station. The city's architectural review board rejected our plan for a wooden ramp and railings. Figure $15,000 for the ramp, railings and landing. I'd like to create a brick, stone and concrete approach that matches the profile and materials of the building. 4. The generator building has been painted on only one side. The whole structure, wood siding, windows, doors and cement block foundation is awaiting a good coat of paint. 5. The new interior 5 panel doors should be delivered, by Oostburg Lumber, and day now. Donated by Stallion Doors of St. Cloud, MN, the doors need to be varnished and hardware installed. The solid brass Baldwin hinges will cost $55 per door. The solid brass passage door knob sets, $55 each. This hardware is expensive but historically appropriate. Estimate the door hardware total cost at around $1,600. 6. Greisch Plumbing still has a $10,000 outstanding bill that has to be paid. Greisch donated 25% of their $16,000+ bill and we've paid them $3,000 down. 7. Port State Bank has a $16,000 loan, going back to January, 2002, that must be repaid. We have a very favorable interest rate, but this needs to be attended to as soon as possible. 8. Kathleen O'Donnell, our excellent architect, would like to sign off on the Restoration. I'm hoping we can have sufficient work done by September, 2002, so she can end her commitment to the Project. 9. The first floor heating system still has to be installed in the Light Station. Radiators and piping have not been installed yet. 10. Once the mechanicals have been installed, the basement of the Light Station needs to have much patching done. Holes in the walls and ceilings have to be patched before second floor occupancy can be considered. 11. Our second floor apartment can only be used for a single family residence. The access/egress and fire code issues allow only that use.


I asked the Board of Directors to find a replacement for me as construction coordinator. The reality is, for better or worse, I can't walk away from the job. My passion for the Light Station and preserving its history is just too great. I hope the Board and society membership will allow me to continue.

July 15, 2002

Monday morning. For those of you that haven't stopped at the Light Station of late. This one's for you!

Ding dong the doors are here, the doors are here. Ding dong the STALLION DOORS are here!! (Sung to the tune of "The witch is dead..." Dan Wright/Jackie B.: The oak interior doors are wonderful!! Ron Mans spent Friday hanging possibly the most important door. The bathroom door! Hopefully, this morning, Ron has at least one volunteer, Lou Tackes, helping him in his task. We'll hang 'em (the doors, not Lou), then stain 'em, as the tricky part is mortising in the hinges. Once that is done we can take them down and put a finish on the doors. Rick will decide if we need to stain them or just put on varnish. He'll test the color to see how the wood looks. I don't do color selections, as Ardy will tell you.

Saturday was Maritime Festival in Port. Very nicely done, with two tall ships present, the Madeline, of Grand Traverse, MI and the Denis Sullivan, of Milwaukee. On Friday, Kimberly Mann, a NPS colleague of Brian McC and Mark C., wandered up the 104 steps. I started the tour and Rick finished it up. Kim was on a working vacation as she had sailed to Port, crewing on the Madeline. Kim, a landscape architect, spends her days at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore working on the various buildings. The life saving station, out buildings and grounds are a fantastic maritime treasure. Saturday, Rick spent a couple of hours with Kim, on the Madeline, touring the boat and then sharing his knowledge of sailing/maritime history with the crew and interested by standers. Kim: I wouldn't be surprised if Rick and family appear on your doorstep in Michigan.

Rick also had the pleasure of speaking with Bob Sorel of Coast Guard Milwaukee. Bob spoke, at the Festival, about the Linda E. sinking and investigation. Accompanying Bob to the Light Station was a retired Coastie, 92 years young. Sorry I didn't get his name. Bob is going to secure an old uniform for us. (Wed.: just got off the phone. Bob called inquiring if Rick left a camera in the government truck.) Captain Bruce Ross, USCG commanding officer, Milwaukee: Captain, who would I contact regarding the Lyle Gun that resides in your office? I believe it is the one that was located on our Light Station property at one time. Also would be great if our Historical Society would be allowed to display one of the 4th order Fresnel lenses that you have in your care. Have made my request to USCG Cleveland, but a local promoter might really assist in our cause. Thank you for your consideration.

Whoa! Suddenly it's Wednesday morning. My Monday morning thoughts were interrupted by a call from Ron Mans. We needed wood for door stops. Headed to the Light Station where I found Ron, Lou Tackes, Dean Shaver and Larry Foust already hard at work. Lou, Ron and Dean were building jams, mortising in hinges and lugging the heavy oak doors into place. I set out for Neuens Lumber, shopping list in hand. Found the brick molding and poplar that I needed, but no door stop wood to match what had survived our demolition work.

Back to the Light Station, with a stop at Drew's Hardware for more caulk. Rick had joined the bunch by the time I arrived. Larry, with paint brush in hand, was priming one of the jams. This was the first day since the dedication that more than 3 of us had been working. Fantastic!!

Grabbed a piece of the door stop, called Randy Lange, and headed for Milwaukee. Thanks, Randy, for once again coming to our rescue. Lange Bros. is cutting and donating sufficient wood, with the right profile, for the door stops. Should be done by Friday.

Stopped back at the LS. Jessie and Herb Johl had dropped off 5 commemorative brick forms and $325. Time to do a cash sheet and get the money to Nancy M. Emptied the donation boxes, added in the items that had been sold. Over $600. Nancy M.: I trust you received the money from Mary F. The visitors to the Station have been very generous. We take time from our work, to show people through, in exchange for a donation. Thanks, Jessie and Herb, for your continued support of the Restoration Project. It was a pleasure meeting you. Herb: I'll get those 1924 flood photos back to you shortly. Jessie: expect some more brick forms in the mail, soon.

Waiting to hear from Ben, at Precision Wood Turning in Waukesha, that our newel posts are finished. The two posts should run us $300. All the other stairway parts, the treads and risers, except the railing (which I still haven't purchased), were milled and donated by Lange Bros Woodwork Co. Inc. Thanks, again, Randy.

Pam Schommer, owner of Brite 'N All, Inc. of Random Lake, has donated 3 more gallons of paint for the exterior of the station and generator building. Pam has donated over $400 of paint. Now I just have to take the time to pick up the paint. Said I'd be there last Friday, but never made it. Maybe today...

Talked to Jim Burmesch, volunteer and FedEx contact. The shipment of the tower and lantern containers from JFK airport, NYC, in March 2002, cost FedEx over $3,000. FedEx had to subcontract the shipment to LandStar, because of the size of the shipping containers. Thanks, again, Jim, for pursuing FedEx's involvement and contribution to the Restoration Project. Jim is also going to try to round up, again, some neighborhood volunteers to do more exterior painting.

Port Washington Historical Society quarterly meeting tonight. Rick will be giving a slide show on the Restoration. 7 p.m., Ansay Insurance Building.

Ann F. (the prez.): hope you have called Dean Wester of Wester Electric apologizing for our error in the Recognition Program booklet. Wester Electric did over $11,000 electrical work at the Station and charged us only $3,500. The booklet listed only a $250-$1,000 donation. A letter of apology would also be warranted. Dean's guys were so accommodating to my requests regarding lighting and wiring. Their work was just completed last week.

Greisch Plumbing, Jeff Greisch, was at the Station yesterday. Jeff installed the new kitchen sink donated by Kohler Co. Located in the caretaker's apartment, it looks great! Had to be over 100 degrees working underneath the sink. Greisch will be back to finish the first floor heating. The radiators are in the correct locations, but no copper piping has been installed. When their work is done, we can address repairing the basement ceiling. Have to close up all the holes created during electrical, heating and plumbing installation. And yes, I know I still have to order a fire door for the boiler room. Will try to take measurements for the door and steel jam today. (If I remember.)

Still haven't heard back from Germantown Iron & Steel Corp. regarding the handrails for the front entrance steps. Met with the sales rep. several weeks ago, and made a follow-up call, but no response. Will try again. Germantown Iron does most of the railing work for Paulus Construction, our masons.

Comments from our visitors continue to encourage our continued work on the Restoration. Last couple weeks we've logged in visitors from Washington, California, Michigan, North Dakota, Maryland to name just a few.

Jeff Shooks: one of our Michigan visitors was particularly interested in the lantern. Knew you were the source for the plans. Said he's talked with you numerous times but his name eludes me at the moment. Hope your work on St. Clair Flats is going well.

Spoke with Jim Marks of the Milwaukee Foundation. Can't make a contribution to the Restoration right now but will send us info on a specific grant in September. Will pass the info onto Mary Flierl and her crew at the research center.

When we move the research center to our new location, Rick and I will work with Kevin Wester to expand our maritime archives. We'll probably limit our archival material to the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee to door county. I'll put on loan my collection of Light House material. Have quite a lot of info on the Light House Establishment, the Light House Service, and historical descriptions of all the harbors and shorelines on the Great Lakes, going back to circa 1898. Happy to make it accessible to researchers.

Surgery scheduled for July 29. I'm hopeful I'll astound everyone, including me, by my fast recovery.

Didn't get to spend time at the LS during the Maritime Festival. Received a call from a college roommate who decided to fly in from St. Petersburg, FL for the weekend. Was an hour late picking her up as I stopped at the LS to drop off the garbage pails I had emptied into my dumpster at home. Off course there were visitors hoping to tour the Station. Figured it was worth the $20 donation to make Judie wait. She didn't think so, but she did buy a Light Station cap when I took her through later in the day.

I don't think I mentioned that Milan and Marla Lackovic, of Port Washington, who design limited edition fine art prints, have donated unique print of our Light Station to be sold by us and in local art stores. 100 percent of the price goes to the Restoration. The Lackovics created a poster for the Maritime Festival that includes a shadow of the Light Station. Really nice! Thanks, M & M, for your support of the Restoration Project. Hope everyone has the opportunity to see their artwork. Their style of photography is called "photo-impressionistic Giclee art." It won't be long before some of their work adorns the walls of my home.

Bob Stewart, now of Lake Geneva, WI but formerly of Port, was at the Light Station yesterday, taking exterior photographs. Bob has done of series of lighthouse prints and will be adding our Light Station to his list. I believe Bob works in pen and ink to create his pictures. He indicated our Light Station will soon be on the label of a local micro brew. "Light House Ale?" Who knows...

Barb and Ken Wardius, authors of "Wisconsin Lighthouses" may be able to make some editorial changes, regarding the status of our Light Station, before their second printing occurs. We have to act fast on this one. Great lighthouse book. Highly recommend it.

Called Tom Mutsch of Schaus Roofing. Several people have inquired about our red roofs. Wanted to check that it was okay that I passed them on to Schaus. Also had a question about the ridge vent on the Light Station. Apparently the vent is narrower than usual but it is installed. The smaller vent is part of the specs put out by Berridge Co., the maker of the shingles. Just had to check.

Jim Fowler: if you have the time, stop at the LS and you can reclaim your heater and sawhorses.

Mary Fran: received your list of vintage furniture you've offered to donate. Will have to discuss with Light Station Committee and board.

Well, the wind is blowing and my eyes are blurring, so I'd better sign off for now. Oh, almost forgot. Ron Voigt, Register of Deeds and Society member, has added photos and text to his webpages on Port Washington, the Historical Society and the Restoration. Check it out: Thanks, Ron. If you're willing to stop at the Light Station, interior photos would really be a nice addition to the website.

Query Port Washington Light Station on the internet and you'll all be pleasantly surprised by all the sites that include us.

Summer is passing by so quickly. The day lilies and tiger lilies are now in bloom at the Light Station. The sod that was laid for the dedication has taken hold in some places, dried up in others. Our water bill will probably be atrocious as we've had to water continually. We've really had no rain to speak of since the dedication. A front is moving through right now. Maybe some rain drops falling on my head by sundown. Speaking of the lawn, the grass has been growing in spite of the the dry weather. The Beast, our old lawn mower, is not dead but is comatose. So, picked up an electric mower at Rick's, used it, abused it and had to go searching for new belts. In the meantime, borrowed mower from parents to at least reduce the height of the hay. Found belts in Milwaukee and Rick repaired his mower. Lawn needs to be cut, NOW! Wacked some weeds yesterday. Would be nice to have the yard in shape for Fish Day, this coming Saturday. "Worlds Largest One Day Fish Fry." Also, need some volunteers to welcome guests.

Would be great if we could have a society member at the Light Station each and every day to greet the visitors that have trekked there way to the Station. Bring a book and I won't put you to work. We're missing a great opportunity for donations and just getting the word out concerning our Light Station.

Keep the lights burning!

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This page updated Wednesday, October 30, 2002