Light Station Restoration Diary
March, 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


March 12, 2002

First and foremost, the sunsets we've been having of late have been glorious. Fire in the sky. Reminds me of the sunsets following the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

The days between now and the June 16, 2002 Light Station Dedication are dwindling. So much to do, so little time. Nancy M. and crew are busy organizing the dedication and attendant details. Invitations, dinner planning, t-shirt design, etc. Glad that isn't on my plate. Thanks to all who are pitching in on this aspect.

Lack of funds is our greatest hurdle right now. The contractors are lined up and waiting the go ahead regarding the roofing and masonry work that must be done. We're $24,000 short so far as the roofing goes. Hate to use our line of credit, but we may have no other choice.

In that vein, we're kicking off our "Red Roof Campaign" and selling the Victorian red shingles for $25 each. 1500 shingles will cover the total roofing cost of $36,000. Everyone that buys at least one shingle will be listed in the dedication booklet. Buy a dozen for $250 and be listed on the permanent Restoration donors board. Kevin W.'s parents are going to hit the downtown businesses and hopefully each board member and volunteer will take a stack of donation forms and ask friends and acquaintances for donations. We can't be shy about this or we won't be ready for the tower to be erected the week of April 20-27th.

Speaking of the tower, it was supposed to be leaving Luxembourg last Friday. Haven't heard anything one way or the other. Maybe LuxAir is still circling New York City, waiting for clearance to land. Jim Burmesch and FedEx are waiting to hear that it has arrived and cleared customs. FedEx is donating the shipping of the very large cargo from New York to Port Washington. Thanks, Jim, for all your help.

The interior of the light station is being completed little by little. Ardy and Doug, Randy and Beth Tetzlaff and Donna H. have been painting. It really looks great. I'm waiting to hear from Benjamin Moore whether the company will donate the exterior paint we'll be needing soon.

Contacted WoodHarbor Doors, in Iowa, to see if they'd donate the interior 5 panel doors we need. They've offered to sell them to us factory direct at 54% of the regular price. Still amounts to $5,000 to $7,000 depending on the wood choice, so that's one more thing we have to put on hold.

Richardson Lumber, in Sheboygan Falls, is milling the window and door casings and baseboard. The casement profile is very simplistic, but an old profile not available. I searched through so many router catalogs that I see Roman ogees in my sleep. Richardson agree to donate the cost of making a custom cutter ($200-$300) and charge half the usual fee for the cutting. The finished product should be almost identical to the 1860 pieces we recovered during demolition. $1,600 cost for 250 linear feet of 1x71/2" baseboard, 420 linear feet of door casing and 225 feet of window casing. Rick and Ron will still have to cut and fit the casements together. 3/4" poplar matching the thickness of the original boards.

WEPCO finally showed up and buried the electrical service. I received a rather hurried call from the trenchers as they severed a buried cable and wondered if I knew what it was for. Wester eventually was called in and had to lay a new conduit from the main building to the generator building. We also uncovered an old cable that probably connected the fog horn controls in the generator building to the basement control panel. Trench is only partially filled in as the ground froze the next day.

Been visiting millwork shops of late trying to find the best deal on the newel posts and balustrades we need for the stairway leading from first to second floor. The newels were barrel shaped and once again not currently available. Lange Bros. of Milwaukee will probably give us the best deal, but the work will undoubtedly have to be delayed because of cost constraints. The roof has to be our number one priority.

On the great news side, Rick and Ron have built the ladder stairs that go from the second floor to the attic. We still are confounded with the state building inspector's insistence on a fire door. But, the ladder looks great! We duplicated Rock Island's ladder.

It's probably wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for a couple 50 degree Saturdays so we can continue with the exterior siding. With the electrical drop now under ground, we can side the remainder of the second floor addition.

The 5/4 pine flooring is arriving on Saturday, the 16th. It's paid for, so it's time we attack laying the flooring. We have to do at least the foyer area right now so the stairs can be permanently nailed in place. The stringers are just temporarily attached right now. Also have to install the trim board (baseboard?) that the stair treads will be slotted in to. It's about 10 inches wide, so we'll piece some narrower boards together.

Wester Electric descended on the Light Station today. I ran in to pick up some stair tread wood samples and was faced with many questions regarding electrical matters. As I had a 2 p.m. appointment at Lange Bros. and this was 1:15, some questions and decisions went unanswered.

 As I was driving to Milwaukee I phoned the Wester Electric and got them to call Tom who was working at the Light Station. I had forgotten to tell him I wanted rheostats put in on the first floor so we can adjust the brightness of the canned lights. By the time I returned, the electricians had disappeared, so not all the switches had been changed. Some outlets ended up where radiators are going to be installed, so we'll just put blank plates over them. No way the bldg. inspector will ignore them.

Once again looking for volunteers to help with the work. To Randy, Beth, Ardy, Doug, Donna, Marilyn, Susan, Dennis and, of course, Ron, thank you so very, very much for painting. And then there's Rick. Every time I show up at the Light Station after the school day has ended, there is Rick cutting wood for one thing or another. Tonight he was working on the railing and newel for the ladder stairs. Even cut the newel with a tendon to fit the mortise in the old flooring.

Well, I'm beat right now, but still upbeat about the Restoration. Sorry for any spelling errors and the many grammatical errors. My mind and my fingers are not in sync tonight.

Keep the lights burning! And hope to see all of you on June 16th. As of that day I will be hanging up my hat as Linda the Lighthouse Lady!

March 24, 2002

I was reminded, again, yesterday why this Restoration Project has become so personal to Rick and me. Jeanette, the granddaughter of Capt. Charles and Linda Teed Lewis, and her husband George Dallmann came by for a visit and to present us with many wonderful gifts to be displayed in the Light Station. Once again we had the pleasure of talking with the couple and gleaning memories of the past from Jeanette. Jeanette and the other former residents and descendants of the Light Station keepers bring life to the buildings and grounds.

To say the least, Rick and I were delighted to hear Jeanette compliment us on the faithfulness of the restoration. On her first visit, last Fall, the rooms were just a mass of framing studs. Now the rooms have taken shape with the drywall, plaster and paint applied. As Rick, George and Jeanette walked slowly through the rooms, she was reminded of where the telephone stand stood and the small stool that Linda Teed Lewis sat on while using the phone; where her Grandmother's lady's rocker was positioned to catch the afternoon sun and the finger oil lamp that accompanied them when Grandmother took them up to bed. We spoke of the second floor grates that allowed warm air to rise from the kitchen and dining room stoves, taking the edge off cold mornings as the twins hurriedly dressed so they could descend the steep stairs and enter the relative warmth of the first floor and eat breakfast before leaving for the Wisconsin Street school. (Some weeks ago, Rick, whose memory is far better than mine, showed me a floor grate that is in the Generator building chimney. We think it may be one of the two that once were in the Light Station, reused in the 1934 remodeling of the Light Station.)

Of the numerous gifts Jeanette and George presented to us, by far the most important is Capt. Charles Lewis's October 22, 1874 letter of appointment as Acting Keeper of the Light House in Port Washington, Wis., to take effect December 1, 1874. The Treasury Department document also refers to the removal of Patrick Kehoe as Keeper. Capt. Lewis's salary was to be a whopping $540 per annum. I will have the document copied and then framed for display.

We also were given about a dozen photographs, some of them copper negatives, of Capt. Lewis, Sr., Charles Lewis, Jr., Linda Teed Lewis, and the family spaniel, Toody. These will also be carefully reproduced and the originals added to our archives.

Two paintings, an oil and a watercolor that hung in the sitting room, have been donated into our care. My intent is to have small brass plaques attached to the frames to attest to their origin.

Jeanette and George are still in good health but slowing down since our last visit. Very likely lost in the flurry of dignitaries going to be present on June 16th, Jeanette indicated they may opt out of the festivities and come another day to see the building she once called home. As the celebration will focus on the tower and lantern, I can see her point, but encouraged the couple to reconsider and join us on the 16th.

As we count down the days, work at the Light Station and the planning of the 16 June 2002 dedication have taken on an urgency I hadn't felt before. So many things yet to accomplish. Thankfully I'm not involved in the dedication, so I'll focus on the Light Station.

Fund raising continues. Our latest endeavor is "The Red Roof Campaign." In an effort to raise the $36,000 needed to replace the current patched and rebuilt roof, we are "selling" shingles at $25 per or 5 for $100. We need to sell 1500 shingles to meet our goal. The good news is that we've already made a $12,000 down payment. I've purchased 10 shingles, my parents, 5, so we're off and running on this campaign. Everyone donating at least $25 will be named in the dedication booklet. I know most of you reading this have contributed to the Restoration. Time for another donation?

THE GREAT NEWS IS THAT THE WISCONSIN ENERGY FOUNDATION HAS ANNOUNCED A $15,000 MATCHING GRANT FOR ALL DONATIONS RECEIVED SINCE MARCH 1, 2002. I've been in contact with the Foundation for about the last 5 months, hoping that they would make another donation to our Project. Carolyn Simpson, executive director of the Foundation, spent over 2 hours with me on site last Friday, the 15th. On Tuesday she called with the good news. I stressed our great need for funds, focusing on the reroofing that is scheduled to begin concomitantly with the tower and lantern work. The Luxembourg workers are scheduled to arrive 20 April and plan to complete their work of setting the tower and lantern within 5 days. WEPCO will match funds incrementally or as a lump sum depending on how much is raised by the time Schaus Roofing completes their work. The roofing should take one to two weeks to complete.

A big thanks to Fr. Kevin Wester's mother. She's taking the campaign door to door, hitting the businesses throughout our community.

Bea Krier is giving us space in the Luxembourg Newsletter (of Wisconsin) to include the schedule for June 16, 17 and to ask for Red Roof donations. Thanks, Bea.

Our newly milled 5/4 clear pine flooring arrived a week ago. Rick, Ron Mans and Harold Schachel were all talking to me about the installation when, out of the blue, Lloyd Croatt, a frequent visitor to the Historical Society Research Center, called me to offer his assistance when the Luxembourg workers are in town. As our conversation continued, he suggested I contact Francis Pierron, a local builder, to ask for his help. I told him I had struck out when I called Francis last year. He offered to call him again, and last Saturday Lloyd and Francis showed up at the Light Station. They will professionally install the flooring the week of April 1. A HUGE thank you to Lloyd and Francis!! In the meantime we have to spread out the flooring so it can be acclimated to the building and dry out a bit more.

Our window/door casing wood should be finished this coming week. Rick and Ron will work on cutting and fitting the casements. Painters needed. Any volunteers? The baseboard, with its simple beveled edge is also included in this shipment from Richardson's Lumber in Sheboygan Falls. A thank you goes out to Mike and Brian Wilger, former students of mine now tool and die makers, for trying to come up with cutters which would have allowed us to mill our own casings. The historic profile required a custom made router. In the end, Richardson's agree to contribute the cost of the cutting blades, so it was cost and time effective to have them do the job. Rick and Ron will still have a big job ahead as they cut and fit the casements. No window is exactly the same size.

As I mentioned before, we very likely will not have interior doors prior to the dedication. WoodHarbor of Iowa has generously offered to custom make the needed doors at 54% off list price. That still leaves us with a 5 to $7,000 price tag depending on the wood selected. I'm looking into other sources with no luck so far. WoodHarbor has by far the best doors I've found. The five panel configuration and the 34" width is not common these days and very few door companies even make them. The doors will be stained and varnished. Meanwhile, Rick and Ron are trying to reuse some of the two panel doors that were installed in 1934. Rick is experimenting with turning them into four panel doors. Unfortunately most of the old doors are 32" and smaller.

Thank you to Ardy, Doug, Donna, Pat Poole and the rest of the painting volunteers. Except for the Keeper's office, stairwells and windows the interior upstairs and down have received at least one coat of paint. So much has been painted that I'm running out of places to caulk.

Paulus Construction was on site Friday and Saturday. They've cut the ADA entrance into the building, excavated the NW foundation and sealed that exterior wall. Inside, Joe and his crew bricked in the old doorway in the original kitchen. Most of the bricks had to be cut to match existing brickwork. It was important to do a good matching job as this wall will not be plastered or drywalled. The old chimney cleanout was maintained and the flue pipe put back as originally uncovered when we removed the gypsum board. It was good to hear from Jeanette that she remembers this wall was always exposed brick. The cutting in of the new doorway where only a window existed made for a day of many, many phone calls. The window, when removed, left us with a 40" wide opening on the exterior and 38" interior measurement. Great size for a 34" door, difficult for a 36" one. Wheelchair accessibility requires a 32" CLEAR passage with the door at 90 degrees. State historical society and architect said not to horizontally cut the opening wider, building inspector said 36" was necessary. I didn't even bother to call National Park Service as I figured this would only confuse thing more. As it stands right now, we're going to try to fit a 36" door into the opening by using a fairly narrow jamb. Or, maybe we could just keep the plywood and pink foam insulation we're currently using to seal the opening. Paulus's quote for this job was $1000.

I made another trip to Lisbon Storm and Sash in Milwaukee to see if they had a five panel used door. No luck. I stop in there so often the guys know me by sight. Also stopped at Lange Bros., the millwork company that made our flooring, to see if they had a custom made, scratch and dent door. Again, no luck. Could this be why my gas gauge seems to constantly hover around empty?

Back to Paulus and the excavating. When the backhoe breached the soil the original cistern burst open. Rick and I knew approximately where it had been, but never knew if it had been removed when a cistern was built inside the building around the turn of the century. Between the two of us we salvaged as much of the brickwork as possible. The damage was already done when I arrived on site Friday morning. Oh to have the luxury of time to properly probe the site and the money to do an archeological dig. The cistern was built of red brick, apparently with 2 brick walls. It was circular in design and approx. 1 to 2 feet underground. The tile feeding into the cistern was 8 inches in diameter. I pulled out a piece of intact tile about 2 feet long.

We also realized that when the trench was dug to bury the electrical service a dump of some sort was uncovered to the back of the Light Station. Fortunately I had instructed the diggers not to backfill the trench. Rick spent last week slowly raking through the mound of dirt and clay, saving the bits of china and glass that was hidden for so long. Its possible that in 1934 when the old barn was torn down, the workers dumped any debris they had into the outhouse vault. The china pieces are white with a gold filigree design. Jeanette did not recognize the pattern, so its origin may remain a mystery.

Wester Electric has almost completed their work. They have far exceeded the original estimate of $3000. When totaled up, the bill looks more like $10,000+. Owner Dean Wester has indicated he doesn't feel he can donate the entire sum and hopes we will pay him at least $3000 to offset his costs. We're suppose to let him know what we can afford. Definitely a different way of approaching a donation. With all the work the guys have done, $3000 seems very reasonable.

Rick and Ron continue to work on the stairway leading from first to second floor. It had been roughed in but had to be removed so flooring can be laid. Yesterday the duo worked on the baseboard that winds its way up the stairs. We took many measurements to try to figure out how the stairs and newel posts will meet. Best scenario is that I can get a couple of the firms that are working up quotes on the newels and balustrades to come on site and do actual measurements. Its especially critical at the winder. We thought we had it figured out but then realized there would be no room to hold on to the railing when ascending the last five steps. The newels were at least 4x4" and I'm guessing they may have actually been 6x6, barreled design. Railing approx. 34" high.

If you're still reading at this point, thank you. So much has been happening its hard to prioritize. Since 8 March we have been waiting for word on the shipping of the tower and lantern from Luxembourg. Finally, we received notification that the air lifted shipment was arriving in NYC, Sunday, 17 March, around midnight. Well, IT DID ARRIVE!!!!

And, it's still sitting in the CargoLux warehouse. JIM BURMESCH AND FEDEX DESERVE A MEDAL OF PATIENCE AND DILIGENCE FOR WADING THROUGH THE BUREAUCRACY THAT FACED US ONCE THE SHIPPING CONTAINERS REACHED AMERICAN SOIL. AS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT RECALL, FEDEX IS DONATING THE SHIPMENT OF THE TOWER AND LANTERN FROM NYC TO PORT WASHINGTON. I will personally be thanking Jim for the rest of my life. First it had to be determined who the recipient and shipper was. Dear Mary Flierl, who never guessed what, "I'll help," could lead to, has been our Luxembourg, Consulate, Embassy, architect, builders contact, ended up being named recipient of the shipment. Can you imagine the FedEx truck showing up at your door and saying, "Will you sign for this?" Next, through Jim, we learned we needed a licensed international freight broker. FedEx came through on this issue. Then the freight broker needed a power of attorney document so they could process with Customs. Right forms were emailed to us, signed by Society Pres. Ardy Ahsmann and faxed to the Freight Broker around 5:45pm EST. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, POA had not found its way to the appropriate person. Media outlets were notified and we waited...and waited. More emails back and forth. Calls to Kathleen O'Donnell, our architect, who has done so much more than any other architect would even think of doing. Friday I received copy of email from Jim/FEDEX, CargoLux was charging over $500/day storage fee and who was responsible for that? Wouldn't release shipment. Mary was wisely out of town and I was apparently out of earshot of my cell phone, so Jim contacted Luxembourg Consulate who contacted Luxembourg Ambassador. Storage payment guaranteed although I'm not quite sure any of us knows who's footing that bill. Too late for shipment to occur, so we wait....and wait.

Right now it looks like FedEx will pick up the shipment tomorrow, Monday the 25th. Should arrive in Port Washington late Tuesday or Wednesday. Azco Crane, donating a days use of one of their cranes, will off load the containers on site. Unbelievable to imagine a lighthouse coming in a box. Other items in the containers destined for other Luxembourg communities in Illinois and Iowa. Not clear yet how these items will be transported to their destinations.

And, on that note, I sign off for today. Once more a thank you to Jim, FEDEX, Mary F., Kathleen, Gerda Hansen in the Consulate, Rick, Ron, Ardy and crew, etc. If you're part of the etc. excuse me for not listing your name. Talk about a team effort.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Public Works department, through the intercession of Tom Greisch, me and city manager Mark Grams, has been working for days clearing out the city land directly to the east of the Light Station. Long ignored and much overgrown and strewn with litter and assorted garbage, the city crew has been trimming back trees and bushes so that once again there will be a clear view of Lake Michigan except for the high-rise that now sits to our east. One of the workers remarked to me that they didn't want to make the area too appealing of the city might decide to sell the land for development.

Keep the Lights burning.


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This page updated Monday, April 08, 2002