Light Station Restoration Diary
June, 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


June 21, 2002

Angels started to appear at the Light Station last Thursday. Pat and Lloyd were the first, then more and more each day, culminating in the dedication on Sunday. Yes, our angels had names, although their faces changed each day and it was difficult to keep track of these wonderful visitors. Together they performed a miracle, changing the Light Station's shabby garment into a beautiful raiment.

Pat was truly a whirlwind, painting, cleaning, rushing off to the hardware store for supplies, scraping windows, providing food and too many donuts. Lloyd was the one who started making phone calls, searching for angels who would later descend from Belgium, Fredonia and Port Washington to work their magic. Pat and Lloyd, I can't thank you enough for everything you did. You facilitated our putting our best face forward for the dedication. I understand Bea Krier also worked the phone from her home, recruiting members of the Luxembourg Society.

Rick Smith and Ron Mans also put in long hours that last week. My two favorite men finished installing the exterior doors, painted floors and steps, varnished doors, moved furniture back into the Light Station, supervised volunteers, helped lay sod, continued to work on the lamp room drywalling and so many other tasks that went unnoticed by me. Their days often stretched to 12 -14 hours.

Larry came and went during the week, quietly working in the attic and Lamp room, and also speaking with visitors that continue to seek out the Light Station.

On Saturday, Jim Burmesch showed up with volunteers he had recruited from his neighborhood. They tackled painting the exterior siding on the Station and helped lay sod. Thanks, Jim, for this last minute help and the other hours you've donated to the project, installing the clapboard siding. Historical Society members Damon, Randy and Beth pitched in, too. Great to see them and the help was much appreciated.

Ah, the sod. So much greenery. The yard still bore the scars of the masons, brick cleaners, electrical workers and a myriad of heavy equipment. A flatbed of sod appeared late Friday morning, donated by a volunteer. Yes, a flatbed! I had approached our Board of Directors about my purchasing some sod to cover the worst areas, but request denied. Then this volunteer asked that I find a source for sod, which I did through the assistance of city manager, Mark Grams. But I had no idea the amount of sod that was agreed to. The result was a verdant lawn unimaginable a few days earlier. When the crowd cleared Saturday night, there was Paul Hansen still laying sod. Paul came to volunteering reluctantly, but the arm twisting paid off for us as he even put in overtime finishing up the yard. Also, so much sod that I'm trying to sell off the excess. Give me a cal (262-689-7208) if you want some. Dollar a roll. I've continued to water it, so it should be still in good shape.

Society Board member Dennis Klopp gave us many hours of help. Dennis sacrificed holiday time to work at the Light Station. Thanks, Dennis. We even had Society President Ann Flierl roll up her sleeves and help with cleaning on Saturday. Merci, Ann.

Randy Lange, of Lange Bros., Milwaukee, responded to my request and had the donated stair parts, custom made in Lange Bros. millwork shop, delivered to the site. Ron temporarily roughed in the front stairs, again, but time constraints just didn't allow us to proceed with that project. Thanks, Randy, for all that you and Lange Bros. have done.

By Saturday evening, the Light Station and site had the appearance of a finally crafted stage set. Too the passing eye, the exterior of the two buildings look finished. Closer examination reveals much work is still not completed. But that list will come later.

Between Thursday and Saturday night, some volunteers put in a full week's work. Others contributed an hour or two. My thanks to each and every one of you.

And where was I during all this time? Here, there and everywhere. In many cases I was the "gofer" person. We needed paint brushes, Linda would "go fer" them. Same with paint, caulk, finishing nails, etc. Also, created, with Kevin's assistance, a new form for the commemorative bricks we are now selling to continue fund raising. Will have to pass that information on to Tom Hudson for inclusion on our web pages. For a mere $65, you may have your name, a family name or the name of a special person inscribed on a 4" x8" cream color brick. The brick will be decoratively displayed in the yard of the Light Station. Probably around the area where the well once stood. I think my brick will simply read, "Linda M. Nenn Light Station volunteer," or maybe my name and birth date. I think I'll order another one that lists my brothers and sisters. Of course I'm buying some bricks. Hope each of you will also. The black inscriptions will be epoxied, so they should easily last a lifetime.

Sunday dawned just like every other day the past week. Partly sunny, partly cloudy, chance of rain. And then we had some celebrations.

Wow, what a day. Actually, two days. We started to party on Sunday and were still going strong Monday night. I readily admit the party goers lasted longer than I did. And what a guest list we had!

Madame Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, minister of culture and higher education for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. A gracious and engaging lady. A pleasure to meet.

Georges Calteux, director of Sites and Monuments for the Grand Duchy. Georges was and is the driving force that continues to link Port Washington and Ozaukee County with the homeland of so many of our citizens. The Grand Duchy is fortunate to have such a talented and generous man representing their country. Would that there were more people like Georges in both of our nations. Thanks you Georges, for all that you've done. And, I hope, we will meet again. Perhaps in your country, perhaps in mine.

The Troaterbattien, a 30 piece Luxembourg band of immense talent and joy. And an entourage of over twenty others that accompanied the band.

Additional government emissaries of the Grand Duchy. This delegation was comprised of individuals that serve the Duchy both in their homeland and in the United States. I apologize for not naming each personally, but their were so many names to learn in such a short period of time. The generosity of this small European nation cannot be understated. Without its contribution of the tower and lantern, the restoration of the Light Station would still be a dream.

Lt. Governor Margaret Farrow, representing the state of Wisconsin. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, our member of the United States House of Representatives. Local and County government representatives. Members of the Port Washington business community. The Ozaukee Big Band. Host families that housed the Troaterbattien members. Brian McCutchen, Mark Chavez and a colleague of the United States National Park Service. Brian and Mark are the ones, from the U.S. government, given the job of making sure our restoration conforms to historical standards. Thanks, guys, for all your assistance. It was a pleasure sitting with you at our dinner Sunday night. Hope we will meet again in the future. I hope you are pleased with our work to date.

Stefanie and Sally from Grand Traverse Cat's Head Light Station. Hey, you two, I owe you big time. This dynamic duo stepped into the fray on Sunday and served as hosts to those that came through the Light Station. Rick and I were busy with other guests, so Sally stood outside the front door greeting guests and Stef was just inside the door guiding visitors. Nothing like importing volunteers from the other side of Lake Michigan! My mom complimented your friendliness and wondered who you were. She noticed the lighthouse on your shirts and thought it looked similar but not exacted like ours.

Mario Mutsch and Bernard Schmitz, the gentlemen that oversaw the actual contruction of our tower and lantern in Luxembourg and in again in Port Washington, were back, much to my delight. To both of you, our undying gratitude and friendship. You came to us as workers and left as friends. Enough said.

And, several hundred others from near and far. A group from Rolling Stone, Minnesota. A delegation from St. Donatus, Iowa. Some from Aurora, Illinois.

Thank you to the Board of Directors of the Port Washington Historical Society for allowing me the great privilege of riding up in the basket of the Fire Department snorkel truck, with Madame Erna, Georges and Mayor Gottlieb to cut the red ribbon on the lantern. I am also grateful you trusted Rick and me to be in charge of the restoration.

>From the dedication the party moved to Veteran's Park for a concert by the Troaterbattien and the Ozaukee Band.

Home to change clothes and then on to the Recognition dinner. We filled the banquet room with over 300 guests. Thanks to A.G. Edwards, Inc. and Susan Kenny for providing the wine to toast our good fortune.

I slipped out of the gala around 9:30 p.m. to take Julie Cleland, her sister, Linda and Nancy Simpson and her family back to the light station for an evening climb into the tower and lantern. Julie had traveled from Florida for the event. Her great, great grandparents were Bernard and Margarethe Shomer, both of whom were lightkeepers in Port Washington. Margarethe was keeper when our Light Station was built in 1860.

Also in attendance during our festivities were Jeannette and George Dallmann. As most of you know, Jeannette and her twin sister lived in the Light Station while the tower and lantern were still intact. Her grandfather, Charles Lewis and great grandfather, Captain Charles Lewis, were lightkeepers at the station, 1874-1934. Ginger and Leland Scanlon spent the weekend in Port Washington. Lee Scanlon was stationed in Port and tended the pierhead light beginning in 1957. Members of the Charles Grahams family. Charles Grahams was the last lightkeeper of our pierhead light which was fully automated in 1976. Charlie later became harbormaster of Port Washington.

I understand the party goers continued celebrating long past the close of dinner. Cheers to all!

For the majority of our Luxembourg guests, Monday proved to be an equally festive day. Accompanied by new friends and community members, they embarked on a bus tour that took them to Milwaukee sites, including a Troaterbattien performance at the Mitchell Park Domes, and back to northern Ozaukee County to follow our Luxembourg heritage trail that Bea Krier has created over the years. Kevin, who was responsible for first bringing Georges Calteux and others to our Light Station museum 2 years ago, met with the government VIPs to see if there are ways they can continue to support our efforts in the research and geneaology areas.

Too much for me, I spent the day at the Historical Society Research Center and Light Station. When I arrived at the Station, there was Larry Foust back at work in the attic. The celebratory atmosphere had not yet faded and Larry was already back on the job sanding drywall, a reminder that our work is far from finished.

Monday evening, in my humble opinion, was even more fun than the Sunday's dinner. Memories, a banquet facility just north of Port Washington, was the setting for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Luxembourg Society of Wisconsin. Much more casual that Sunday evening, the dinner was well attended. Mary Flierl and Bea Krier were the organizers and its safe to say a great time was had by all. There was singing, dancing and musical interludes by various band members. A few stump fiddles even appeared. A musical instrument too complex to describe, you have to see one to appreciate its unique sound and appearance. Trust me on this one.

Once again the party goers closed the establishment and took their celebration on into the night. From what I've heard, a finer celebration could not have been had. May we all meet again.

Mary Flierl deserves a special thank you. Mary, who never picked up a paint brush, has been tirelessly working behind the scene throughout this restoration. Mary has been the one in constant communication with Luxembourg and the Luxembourg consulate in Chicago. Mary was the one, with Jim Burmesch of FedEx, that faxed documents back and forth when our tower and lantern were held up at Customs, atJFK airport in New York City. Mary coordinated, with Gerda Hansen in Chicago, the coming and going of our Luxembourg dignitaries. Mary, Mary, Mary....Not one to seek the limelight but so instrumental in our Project and celebration being a success. Thank you.

Kathleen O'Donnell, what can I say? Kathleen, owner of Tripartite, Inc. and architect for our restoration project, has been great. Not only has Kathleen donated a great share of her services and traveled to Luxembourg twice at her own expense and took the time to be licensed in the state of Wisconsin, she has returned countless emails and phone calls from me concerning every aspect of this project. As we do not have a general contractor, I had to learn through experience and Kathleen's guidance, how to deal with masonry, millwork, carpentry, building codes, electrical and plumbing issues. Whenev er I had a question, and I've had many, many questions, Kathleen has taken the time to sort things out with me. I do not believe any other architect could have been as helpful to the continued success of our restoration than Kathleen. Recommendation available upon request. Let's just say we received much more than we paid for.

Well, it's now Friday morning, 21 June 2002. The angels have vanished, the crowds dispersed and the dignitaries all returned to their homes. I received an email from Mario letting me know he back in Troisvierges, Luxembourg. I trust everyone else has arrived at their destinations safely. The afterglow of the celebration has faded, washed away by this morning's early rain.

Oh, if any lighthouse restoration project is looking for a contractor to reproduce a tower and/or lantern, Mario indicated he would be very interested in bidding on the job. If you're interested, please contact me or Mario directed, in Luxembourg. Mario's email address is mutschetfils@cmdnet.lu

And the restoration continues. Ron left Monday for a well deserved vacation in Northern Wisconsin. Rick left Wednesday for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to see his mother and maybe take his sailboat out on Green Bay. Last summer he never even had the opportunity to uncover it. Larry has been the only volunteer back at the Station. I even took yesterday afternoon off for a doctor's visit and then went fishing with 3 of my nieces. The twins were most successful, catching over a dozen small fish in the marina. I think I hooked one or two blue gills and poor Tracy couldn't catch a fish no matter how hard she tried. The twins persuaded their mom to take some of the larger of the catch home to cook, the rest we released to be caught again another day.

This morning I rushed to the Light Station to caulk around our new ADA entrance. The doors was installed a week ago, but the framing has not been completed. In what turned out to be downpour of rain, I used up 3 tubes of caulk before I was completely soaked. That was 6 hours ago. The rain has stopped and I'm sick of typing, so I'll say adieu for now.

Still to be accomplished: Interior doors. We're waiting for their arrival from Stallion Doors which is donating the new doors. Exterior painting: Only part of the clapboard was painted prior to the dedication. It all should receive two coats. Windows: Angels painted almost all the window exteriors. Some still need to be reglazed and broken panes replaced. A second coat of paint needs to be applied to all. ADA entrance: entrance ramp must be built. Expected cost $15,000. Design is still being discussed. Interior baseboards and door frames. We have the materials but the door jams and trim still need to be cut and installed. Stairs leading from first to second floor: newel posts must be turned, railing purchased, winder built and the whole thing assembled and installed. We desperately need a skilled carpenter to succeed at this job. I picked up the spindles, donated by Lange Bros., from Hartmann Furniture Repair in Sheboygan. Bruce Hartmann re-turned the spindles so they look almost like original used at Rock Island. Storm windows to be bought, painted and installed. Finish of first floor sunroom. The walls have to be sanded and varnished. Casement windows varnished. Plumbing and heating for first floor. Heating pipes and radiators have yet to be installed. Still owe Griesch Plumbing approx. $10,000 for work done to date. That includes a 25% donation of services. And the list goes on.

Bottom line, we're still around $62,000 short of our fund raising goal. Wouldn't it be great if our angels returned to continue work. Lloyd, Jim, I leaving that up to you. You get the volunteers, I'll be there.

Oh, and my latest medical mishap is I apparently broke a bone in my left hand about 5 weeks ago. I've tried to ignore it, but finally had an x-ray yesterday. As I waited so long to see a doctor, they may just leave it the way it is. Who needs the little finger anyway, other than for drinking tea! Knee surgery is scheduled for 29 July, so I'll have about a month to continue working at the light station. Growing older and falling apart is definitely not fun!

Keep the lights burning!


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This page updated Wednesday, July 17, 2002