Light Station Restoration Diary
May, 2001
As written by the people working on the restoration.
Unless otherwise identified, the diary author is Linda Nenn,
co-chair of the Restoration Project


May 10, 2001

It looks like we will have Pete Paulus do the initial masonry work which involves removing 3 windows, bricking in two of them and replacing the old kitchen window with a double hung. I contacted every mason I could scrounge up, but they've all retired or have no time. Laib Restoration of Oshkosh was my first choice for a Restoration Contractor, but they've done so well in gaining a great reputation that they're booked solid through June, 2002. I think we'll have a better handle on the project once the carpenter and blacksmith arrive here from Luxembourg. They should be on site Sunday, June 9th. I'm still awaiting receipt of stamped architectural drawings. Dept. of Commerce gave approval but I can't get the necessary building permits without the approved plans in hand.

Jon Westphal will be at the Light Station on Saturday, working on the upstairs bathroom. He doesn't want to do any more walls until we get the approved plans. I think that's prudent under the circumstances. Wester Electric has started the electrical work. This will take some time as they will be on site only when they aren't busy elsewhere.

May 15, 2001

Looks like Peter Paulus will be doing the first round of masonry, the filling in of two windows and retrofitting the kitchen window masonry to fit a double hung. I'm trying to get a number of carpenters/roofers to give us a heads up on bidding on the eaves extensions. Second round of calls today. Also need to find a masonry cleaner to clear a spot so that Peter can match brick and mortar. 

Luxembourg carpenter and blacksmith will be in Port for an on site inspection on June 9th, around noon. At first I was told they speak no English, but yesterday heard the blacksmith is fairly fluent and carpenter somewhat. Makes the visit that much easier.

Still waiting to receive state approved plans. Our architect, Kathleen O'Donnell, has been unable to get in contact with city officials to find out exactly what she must submit.

Recent media coverage: The Beacon Official Publication of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, vol. 19, Number 1, Spring 2001: Full page on restoration. I'll be sending them further information.

Lighthouse Digest March edition, half page with picture. They'd like to do a feature article on the Light Station and our other lighthouses with a focus on the keepers. I just haven't had much luck tracking down info on the keepers. But I will be doing a follow up with them also.

Western Michigan Tourism Council: They have a website and photos of Port's old and new lighthouses. They haven't posted the info I've supplied them, but at least we're mentioned. Also were to be included in their Lake Michigan Circle Tour booklet. Haven't seen a copy yet, but I edited the copy they were going to use.

Little by little the word is getting out there. Had three couples show up at the Light Station front door last week, so gave them the 50 cent tour.

May 21, 2001

On Friday the people from Grand Traverse Cat's Head Light were here to visit and photograph our light station. They took information back with them to display in their Light Station which will feature Great Lakes Light Stations this summer season. As we are a project in progress, the structural components of the original Station were of particular interest and delight to them. And I do mean delight! They kept touching the wood and brick as if they were treasures.

Saturday afternoon a couple from Illinois stopped by. They had read about our Light Station in THE BEACON, the publication of the Great Lakes Lightkeepers Association. My full page article had intrigued them enough to make the drive. Another couple stopped in after the wedding at St. Mary's. The commercial fishing display caught their attention.

Sunday, as a diversion from pulling square nails from furring strips, I spent an hour with a civil engineer from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Again, the opportunity to study the structure and construction methods used in 1860 led him to seek us out. In late afternoon, I was pulling weeds when a RV slowly rolled past. Thrilled to be taken away from my task, I told the couple from Michigan that they were welcome to have a tour. Turns out they had read my little article in the March LIGHTHOUSE DIGEST and wanted to include us in their lighthouse odyssey which include Michigan City, Indiana and the west coast of Lake Michigan. Rick showed up as they were leaving and another half hour passed in conversation. They said I should pass on this message to all within earshot. "They came because they wanted to see the Light Station, not what we might put in it. And, they will be back next year to see the completed project, although it was fascinating to find out how the Stations were built." Of course, as everyone adds, they were dumbfounded that the city was allowing a high-rise to be built in our front yard.

Also, Nancy Simpson, who recently moved from Michigan to Jackson, WI is our latest volunteer. We haven't met yet, but she says she's ready and willing to wield a paint brush, so I've signed her up.

The work and the fun (the tours) continue. With luck we will have our building permits by the end of the day.

May 24, 2001

Completed the form for our BIG building permit. Can pick it up tomorrow if I can get a check for $825 from Nancy. That's the permit fee the city is charging us. I also was made aware that the Planning Commission had approved our plans in April, EXCEPT the ADA ramp access. They want something that blends with the building better than a wood frame ramp. We were never notified of this, so we'll have to pass it by Kathleen, probably when she's on site on June 9th. Today I met with roofing rep. from Schaus Roofing in Manitowoc. I gave him the specs for the roofing. He will submit a bid for the main building and the generator building, separate and as one job. The flat roof on the NE addition will be included. Schaus roofed Rock Island Lighthouse in 1989. Next Wednesday John Millen, from Millen Roofing in Milwaukee will meet with me. Millen did the recent new roofs on the old Washington County Courthouse and Jail. Both companies have dealt with the same manufacturer of galvanized steel shingles. This company also provided the roofing material for Whitefish Point, Michigan Light Station.

Jon Westphal has secured 3 sealed bids for the roof extensions and exterior moldings. He's awaiting the fourth bid. We will examine the bids next week. This work will have to be done prior to the roofing.

We're now featured in another periodical. Through the combined efforts of the Port Tourism Council, the Chamber of Commerce (they paid for an advertisement) and me, we have a half page write up in a publication published by the Western Michigan Tourism Association. Lake Michigan Circle Tour and Lighthouse Guide, Lighthouse Museum Special Edition. We are one of only five Wisconsin Lighthouse museums highlighted in the magazine. The others are in Manitowoc and Door County.

May 29, 2001

At the Light Station: yesterday Rick Smith arrived late in the afternoon. I saw him heading that way so I turned the van around and headed back up St. Mary's Hill. By the time I arrived Rick had removed half the insulation remaining in the attic. His new technique, using a potato rake he recovered from his mother's home in Menominee, MI. We managed to get the fiberglass insulation into the bursting dumpster. Hopefully it will be removed this week. To stamp down the heaping insulation Rick jumped on a door that we laid on top of the mound. I guess this is when we should have a camcorder handy.

When I had arrived earlier in the day, potential visitors were just topping the wooden steps. We ended up with an hour and a half tour. Historical Society member Jean Appleman had told her friends that the LS was closed for repairs, so happenstance timing resulted in our crossing paths at the opportune moment.

While Rick and I were working a woman who lives just down the block stopped by and volunteered to help with the Restoration. Our list of volunteers is growing, so a meeting will need to be scheduled soon to determine the work that can be performed by volunteers and which will have to be tackled by contractors.

Who let the roof out...roof, roof... An important part of our Restoration involves recreating the original roof line and reroofing the Light Station and the generator building. Our architect, Kathleen O'Donnell, prepared specs for doing the job with either asphalt shingles, shake shingles or metal roofing. We know that all three types of roofing materials have been used on the Light Station. Jon Westphal, our crack carpenter, disagrees vehemently with Rick and me as to which type of roof we should install. Jon feels that a shake shingle roof, like the one that appears in an 1884 photo would be the historically correct way to go. Rick and I believe that we should roof the buildings with dark red shield pattern, galvanized steel shingles. The basis for our preference is that the 1860 blueprints called for "metal, shield pattern shingles." Jon contends that we have no proof that this roof was ever installed in 1860. He's right that I have not uncovered documentation that confirms or denies the composition of the first roof. We do know this: the 1909 official inspection of the Light Station states the roof is "red." We also have photographs that show a metal shield pattern roof. Lastly, the 1934 remodeling blueprints state that the metal roof is to be replaced. This discussion brings up an interesting quandary as far as the Restoration is concerned.

In the course of this project the Historical Society must determine the Light Station's "most significant period." I've mentioned this before, but it bears addressing again. We, anyone that is representing the project, have to be clear in our description of the scope of the Restoration. We are creating a building that never existed in total at any time in history. The original tower and lantern were removed prior to the construction of the back addition to the Light Station. This situation is possibly unique to our site, as the other Light Stations that were built around the same time were either never remodeled or the towers remained after the dwelling were reconfigured. The National Park Service and the State Preservation Office have granted us leeway in this regard, primarily because of the involvement of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. As we interpret our project, I propose that we establish our target period as 1899 -1910. This will allow us to incorporate the interior decor as it existed during the tenure of Capt. Charles Lewis, Jr., who was our Station's longest serving keeper (42 years. It also lends itself to a period in Port Washington's and Great Lakes maritime history where shore or coastal lights (the Light Station) were being supplanted with pierhead lights. We also know, from photos and the 1909 inspection, that the Light Station was tan in color rather than white. The critical issue here is that the Historical Society can verify this period in the Light Station's history.

On the media front, the Chamber of Commerce has produced a nice brochure on the Light Station. It's available at the Pebble House. Great to get more publicity.

I've sent a fax to Waste Management of SE Wisconsin asking that they consider donating the use of another dumpster. If this doesn't pan out, we'll have to rent one as we continue with the work.


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This page updated Wednesday, July 04, 2001