Light Station Restoration Diary
September, 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


September 9, 2001

Elsie and Dick, from south of Chicago, showed up on Thursday. Been coming to Port for 19 years and staying at the Harborside. If the Electric Company switches to natural gas, wonder what will happen to the annual salmon run and all the hundreds of fishermen that are attracted to Port, as there will no longer be a need for the warm water discharge. Monkey Island may be abandoned. Haunted the harbor for so many years that the lingo of the fishermen is no longer a secret dialect.

The Middletown slipped into Port yesterday, early evening. She must have been carrying a small load as it didn't appear that she scraped bottom as usual. I watched her come between the piers and chided myself for not having camera in hand. Parking was at a premium, so I'd left my car several blocks away, camera safely stowed next to my seat. Oh well, I must have a hundred photos of Middletown, our most frequent coal boat. Still, the old WWII converted oiler has nice lines compared to the newer members of the fleet.

Work has slowed down at the light station. Just a lull before another flurry of activity. Advanced Restoration has now done preliminary cleaning on all four sides of the Station. The south face, with its distinctive 1860 logo, is starting to look pretty good. No major changes were made to the facade in the 1934 remodel, so the brickwork is pretty consistent. Wish I could say the same about the other sides.

Pete, our favorite mason, just stood and shook his head as we scanned the multitude of bricks that will have to be removed and replaced with cream city bricks. And, the whole second floor, on the east and west exposures were mortared with the wrong color. Not much to say about the quality of work done in '34. Will have to router out the "mort" and start over. BIG JOB!

Damon, thanks for cutting the grass. With the weather we've been having, the grass is growing so fast we could bale it and sell it to the farmers.

Ardy and Doug: I think you're the ones we have to thank for finally getting us a working dehumidifier. Moved it from the furnace room to the basement storage room where all the salvaged wood is stacked. Emptying it at least once a day, sometimes twice. Good we're giving the wood a chance to dry out. Earlier rains found their way through the old stone foundation. Will have to do something about that situation, maybe when we cut in the new handicap entrance. Pete could probably expose the foundation with the backhoe and apply a sealer.

Ron's getting impatient to start working again, but the plumbing has been put on hold until I hear back from Kohler Co. regarding a request that they donate the new fixtures we'll be needing. I'm hopeful they'll come through for us as my contact called me while on vacation and supplied me with the info as to how to make my request. Bob Greisch was great, helping me collect the necessary catalog numbers and typing up a very complete list of items we need. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I figure we've only got about six weeks to either get the new heating pipes installed or shut down the project for the winter. Definitely don't want to do that as every little drop of moisture would wreak havoc on the plaster walls and plumbing already in place. We have to decide if we're keeping the old boiler or replacing it with two new boilers and separating the caretaker's apartment from the rest of the station.

Nancy Simpson and I spent Friday hitting a few salvage places in Milwaukee. My mission was to see if we could find salvaged wooden storms to replace the aluminum ones. No luck as our windows are slightly off standard sizes.

Spent about an hour with Ann Davis of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel. She'd like to do a nice feature article on the project. Thanks, Mary F., for putting her in touch with me. She indicated she'd try to get back to the Station with a photographer this coming week.

Thursday spent a couple hours with Jim Kenros. He's a college prof, from Illinois, who likes to write musical compositions about places that intrigue him. We actually never got to the Light Station as I took him around the harbor and then back into Guenther's Pond area, one of my favorite hidden glades. I was going to introduce him to our great artesian water, but apparently when the city rebuilt the road to the bluff, they destroyed the old wishing well. One more bit of history lost. Sailing friends had piqued his curiosity about Port. Seems its one of their favorite destinations.

Rick called from the Light Station this afternoon. He was patching the floor where old plumbing lines had been. Not one to miss the chance to hammer a few nails, I headed back there. At our next meeting we need to move on getting the new flooring milled. Figure about $10,000. I'll be calling Neuens owner as I haven't heard back from him regarding getting a better price on the flooring, windows and wood siding.

Stan's Carpentry hasn't started work yet on the gables and eaves. Will give him a call tomorrow. Hard to reach.

Tom Mutsch, of Schaus Roofing in Manitowoc, played phone tag with me this week. Just wanted to let me know they'd received our retainer and would soon be ordering the materials.

Plan on a bill from Paulus Construction this week. Figure $7,000 as they had to do more than expected. Did some inside work also. They've finished the front steps, the second time. We need to keep an eye on the brick cleaners and make sure the new steps and brick veneer work doesn't get damaged by the chemicals. Its hard to keep them covered with the plastic as it keeps blowing away. When the exterior cleaning is completed, I'll have to sit down with Pete and get a quote on the next phase of the masonry work to be done. I'm guessing we're looking at $15,000. Ouch!

Meeting with someone on Monday, around 10. Pat W. sent him my way. From what I gather, Pat is footing the bill, for now, as this guy is a paid consultant interested in helping the Maritime Experience move forward at a faster pace. Don't know how I can be of help, but I figure both the Experience and us share the goal of preserving Port's Maritime history.

Sent a letter to the Oz Press this past week, correcting some information that appeared in the Press and Lakeshore Life. Some historical and some clerical. Damon told me and Mary that it was an error that the Experience's name was given for our post office box, so I decided to set the record straight. Hope I did justice to our efforts and the Experience's work.

Still waiting to hear from Jim Woodward, the USCG lampist. He says he has uncovered a written description of the lantern construction. He implied he may charge us for his research, so I emailed him that I would pay his fee personally. I'm doing the same thing with Candace Clifford, in Washington, D.C. I'd love to be able to go to D.C. myself, but Chronic Fatigue Syndrome keeps me pretty close to home. Bad news, the illness. Good news, I'm always around town. By the way, Jim. If you read this, the Light Station went dark October 31, 1903. Scott's Coast Pilot from 1905, confirms the year.

Kathleen: if we're able to recover the description of the lantern construction, I'll forward it to you immediately. Fantastic info to send on to Luxembourg.

Oh, I talked to a former Port resident who's lived in CA for decades. In passing she mentioned fond memories of playing with the Lewis kids at the Light Station. Rose Wilson lived at the foot of the bluff, where the huge high-rise now looms. That translates to mean she was a playmate of Jeanette and her twin sister. Would have loved to get Jeanette and Rose together, but Rose is heading back to CA on Monday. Mr. Wilson was a fish monger among other jobs. Daily he'd buy fish from the fishing fleet and sell it locally and in Milwaukee. On her last trip to Port, a year or 2 ago, Rose told me the story of how, during Prohibition, she was told by her mother not to peek under the pulled shades on dark nights as the rum runners from Chicago would drive past the house and pick up contraband alcohol at the brewery which had legally converted from beer to cream soda. Rose, as any kid would do, peeked and saw the black cars silently pass by. But, that's a story for the Research Center, so 'nuff said.

Rick and I keep staring and postulating about the Light Station construction. Cracks, patches, misaligned bricks, shadows on the bricks all seem to point to a structure that was rebuilt, incorporating parts of an earlier dwelling. No answers. Just lots of questions.

Keep the lights burning. If you receive this update and haven't made a donation lately, now's the time. Windows, plumbing, heating and siding need to be addressed in the very near future. Remember, no donation is too small and none is certainly to large. The Coastal Management Grant, $24,000, is money we're depending on, soon. It must be matched almost 2 to 1 for us to receive the total grant. We've come a long way, but we're still a long way from home. On that note, thanks, Nancy and Rick Simpson, for purchasing a step. I know, where's my step donation. It's coming, really.

September 9, 2001

As the Autumn days grow shorter, so too it seems do my days. I start out the mornings with so many good intentions and, by sunset, so many tasks left undone. But, the Restoration Project continues.

Helped Mary F. and Ann F. send out fund raising appeal to those Historical Society members yet to respond. Businesses and other individuals are next on the list when time permits. Anyone willing to help, please let me know.

Damon, thanks for mowing the lawn again.

Held our regular board of directors meeting last Wednesday. Board unanimously accepted bids from Neuens Lumber for the large sunroom windows. Over $6,000 for just the four windows. Also their quote for new pine 12" lapboard siding. They will mill it from their own stock, right in Fredonia. $1.95/linear foot. Approx. $5,000 for that work. Have my figures crossed that Joe Barclay will volunteer his time to help install the windows and siding. The generator building is wrapped in lovely pick moisture barrier awaiting its new coat. We'll prime the siding before installation, just as we did with the eaves moldings and soffit boards. We also accepted Greisch Plumbing quote to complete the plumbing and heating work. Dan McCotter and Burt Babcock have generously agreed to donate two new boilers. All new piping will be installed. Greisch has agreed to donate 20% of their $6,700 fee. So, if Kohler Company comes through with the donation of new plumbing fixtures, we should be looking at slightly more than $5,200 to complete this aspect of the Project. The board has directed me to pursue new bids/information for air conditioning of the Light Station. The intent is climate control for the preservation of artifacts and memorabilia rather than creature comfort. The challenge is that this AC must minimally affect the historical restoration. This wasn't included in our original specs for the project, so I'll have to see what's available as far as systems and cost. We can't continue with drywalling until a decision has been made and ductwork installed.

As to the gable and eaves extensions, Stan Lamars of Stan's Carpentry arrived on site today to begin his work. He will either provide me with a materials list for the decking and rafters work, or order it directly from Neuens and another lumber company that carries wood that will match the width and thickness of the current decking. Scaffolding was being erected when I opened the Light Station this morning. Requires that four holes be drilled into the brick facade on each side to anchor the scaffolding.

Last Friday was a challenging day to say the least. Had a phone call around 10 a.m. It was the city building inspector calling to say he was at the LS and wondered why I wasn't there. No forewarning, so I said I'd be there in 10 minutes. We negotiated it down to 8 minutes, but I was 10 seconds late. Hope its his type of humor. Dennis was not alone. I was met by the state building inspector and two fire marshalls (inspectors.) I think I've mentioned before that the city building inspector is married to the state building inspector. The fire inspectors were from Port and pretty much along for the ride. They wandered around and kept saying how neat the building and project were.

Not so with the state inspector. She managed, in two short hours, to basically bring our work to a screeching halt. Questions about fire rated ceilings, walls, etc. I pointed out that we were following the approved plans, but I now know why they are stamped "conditionally" approved. Awaiting a score sheet that was apparently part of the approved plans but something not included with our plans or specs. This score sheet shows where our project received plus and minus scores regarding the Uniform Dwelling Code and Historic Building Code. Overall our plans received a score in the plus column, but she needs to see the list to determine if changes have to be made before we continue. Architect, Kathleen, was brought into the conversation and spoke at length with Ms. Wiese. All I can do is hope that these issues can be resolved quickly and in our favor. This isn't merely a speed bump, this is a road block.

Once again we've had many wonderful visitors stop by to check out the Light Station. Kathi, Jerri and Linda, from Chicago, wandered in and were given the grand tour. To each of you Chicagoans, I'm still waiting for a call to say you're coming back to help with the work. William and Sandy, from Kenosha, also paid us a visit. Stayed until the sun was setting. Had to hold a flashlight so Wm. could sign our visitors' log. Hope to see all of you again!

Hopefully there will be a feature article on our Restoration Project in this coming Sunday's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Ozaukee Section. Have spoken with Journal reporter Ann Davis several times, including this morning. Photographer was at the LS last week to take some photos of volunteers at work. Unfortunately most of our hard working volunteers couldn't make it that day, so, Nancy S., I hope you smiled for the camera.

Speaking of Nancy S., besides taking digital photos and sending them on to Tom Hudson for inclusion on our webpage, she's quickly becoming very skilled at so many tasks. You should have seen the two of us hanging drywall last week. Then again, maybe it was fortunate we didn't have an audience. Of course we did a great job, but be grateful we're not being paid by the hour. Kathi, Jerri and Linda of Chicago: you too could be having this much fun and helping with this great cause. I await your call!

My apologies to those that have offered to help with the Restoration on weekends. We just haven't been able to schedule any Saturday or Sunday work days. Maybe as Fall turns to winter, the other volunteers won't be off at grandchildren's and daughters' soccer games, or playing golf or off to their cottages up north. Ron Mann continues to put in many, many hours at the Station, but has been heading north on the weekends. Don't blame him one bit, either.

I ran away this past weekend. It should have been Rick's trip, but with two teenage daughters (one with a newly broken leg), a very understanding yet equally busy wife, a couple of horses to tend, soccer games, yard work and new windows to finish and install, he claimed he didn't have the time. So....I graciously volunteered to accompany his boat trailer over to Michigan on the Badger Carferry. My task was to pick up a life boat reputed to have been off of the carferry Milwaukee, which was sunk in 1929. Saturday's crossing was like a Caribbean Cruise. Sunny with hardly a ripple. The foredeck was awash with deck lounge chairs and dozen of passengers soaking up the sun. I sat aft with my crossword puzzle book and Rick's copy of Dennis Noble's book, "That Others Might Live," the story of the US Life Saving Service. Quite an apt book for the trip. The lifeboat was pulled and winched onto the trailer Saturday night and now sits out at Westport Marine waiting to be moved to the Light Station grounds probably this coming weekend.

Sunday's return crossing was a bit of a different story. I stood out on the foredeck soaking up the wind and the rain squalls while all the sane passengers stayed inside. The lake wasn't rolling, just capping some, so the trip back was nice in spite of the weather. Had the privilege of meeting Bob Manglitz, owner of the Badger and the one responsible for donating the lifeboat. I asked if I might see the wheelhouse, but because of the current world situation, my request had to be denied as the wheelhouse had to remain locked and firearms had been brought on board. The WTC destruction will undoubtedly bring many changes into our lives, some subtle, some not. The price of freedom has, sadly, taken on new meaning.

My van is in the shop right now. Broke down on the way to the carferry. Sister Barb swapped cars with me in Sheboygan, so it was her car that made the trip to Michigan. When the ferry crewman wanted to inspect the car I didn't have a clue how to open the hatchback. I thought of how, at the airports, they ask you if you packed your own luggage. I couldn't even tell the guy what was in the car other than big bags of cat food and dog food. Thanks, Barb, for your help. As I was traveling as a guest of the owner, they sent me on with just a questioning look and a smile at my cargo.

Have retained lampist Jim Woodward, of Cleveland, to provide information that seems pertinent to our Restoration. Can't afford to hire him to do extensive research, especially as the repair shop just called to tell me how much they're ransoming my van for. But, with his help, I believe we'll shortly be in possession of detailed material regarding the construction of the tower and lantern. Kathleen, as soon as I receive any of this information or drawings, I forward it to you so you can share it with Super Mario in Luxembourg.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support of the Light Station Restoration Project. To those whose names have been recently added to my email list, how about another donation to the cause?

If you see someone connected to one of the following companies/individuals, please thank them for their in kind donations to our Project.

Allied Insulation of Milwaukee/Jack Flack Jackson Concrete/John Mayer Neuen's Lumber/Jack Janik Arnold's Environmental Services Advanced Restoration/Dan Dimmer and employees Tripartite, Inc./Kathleen O'Donnell McCotter and Hansen/Dan McCotter Burt Babcock Paulus Construction/Pete Paulus Stan's Carpentry/Stan Lamars Home Depot/Pt. Washington Rd. and Capital Drive Greisch Plumbing and Heating/Bob, Jeff Greisch Waste Management of SE Wisconsin and, of course, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg/Georges Calteux

Besides all the wonderful donations received from individuals and businesses, three organizations stand out for their support: The Port Washington State Bank: a $15,000 challenge grant The National Trust for Historic Preservation: $2,000 grant Wisconsin Coastal Management Fund: $24,000 grant that we must match 2 to 1.

In kind donations and the grants only cover a fraction of our Project costs. If you've already made a financial contribution, how about asking friends and neighbors to do the same?

September 30, 2001

I awoke early this morning with the thought that the passage of time seemed more tangible this week. Late afternoons had turned to twilight much earlier. The air had a crispness not felt a week ago. Yesterday, I said my goodbyes to a special lady first met about 35 years ago when I babysat her children. Then, for almost 20 years we were teachers in the Northern Ozaukee School District. Mary Smith, with the most common of names, was anything but common in her lifetime. Times passage was also evident with the announcement that Smith Bros. fisheries had closed their doors after 143 years. Five generations of Smiths, starting with Gilbert in 1848, provided fish for our tables. I'll miss their presence in our community. I once asked Mary, during a particularly hectic day at school, if she wished she was working with Dan, at Smith Bros., rather than teaching. She laughed and said teaching was much easier work. I'll take her word for it. Went down to the harbor around 5 a.m. this morning to catch the end of the last night of this year that the fishermen could fish for 24 hours straight if they so desired. The water had hardly a ripple as the Power Plant discharge was silent. Heard the salmon jumping but didn't see any being landed. Orion was overhead. Fitting that the hunter was watching the fishermen.

Work continues at the Light Station. Kohler Company called to say that they have agreed to donate all new plumbing fixtures for the Restoration Project. They will deliver to Greisch for installation. The phone call came as I was hammering away with Ron Mans, and I forgot to ask when. Will follow up.

Have now ordered the pine siding and flooring from Neuens. Both were approved at our last board meeting. Asked that the siding be milled first, but have now realized we'll need some of the flooring so that the ADA bathroom can be installed and finished. Will call Jake on Monday and let him know.

Stan and his crew of 2 are working on the roof extensions. Starting to look really great. The soffit, fascia and molding take alot of time cutting and fitting. The carpenters' skill speaks well of their fee. Picked up a check for $6,775 from Nancy and gave it to Stan. That's half of the cost. The rest will be due when they finish, probably in two weeks.

Received a $5,000 donation from our architect's parents. Kathleen, the generosity of you and your parents is unbelievable.

Ron and I began framing in the lamp room on Thursday. Used some of the1860 wood timbers that had been reused in the 1934 renovation. Have saved all of the original wood that was recovered intact in our demolition work. Hope to display the pieces that show the mortise and tendon construction method used.

Hope to mount the scaffolding this afternoon that Stan has erected on the west side of the LS. Want to prime the new roofing boards while the opportunity exists. The soffit and moldings were already primed, so its just the extensions and fascia that need a coat of paint. My vertigo may determine how much painting I do.

The lifeboat is now on site at the LS. Rick and I took down a section of the fence and he threaded his suburban and trailer between the posts. That was the easy part. Bill Schanen, from the Ozaukee Press, was on hand to take some photos. He volunteered to assist us in getting the lifeboat off the trailer and onto blocks. Not an easy task as we really hadn't thought through the process ahead of time. With the open boat half off and half on the trailer, he suggested that boat jacks would be a big help. So, I got on the phone with Kathy at Great Lakes Marine. Bill took his leave, but within a half hour Jim Burt was on hand, assessed the situation and set me up with 4 jacks. He sent along son Mike to expidite the situation. If you see any of the boats being taken out of the marina this Fall, chances are Mike and/or Jim will be in charge. When I first met the Burts, Jim was teaching in Cedarburg and Mike was in kindergarten in Fredonia. Jim left teaching in the late 1970s and set up Great Lakes Marine out near the old drive-in theater. He's now building another facility out on KW. The old Weyker farm.

Thanks, Bill, for your help. Care to volunteer some more of your time? We stll have a cradle to build.

The opportunity presented itself, so I asked Jim about the crane he uses to set the sailboat masts and lift boats onto trailers or into their cradles. With its telescoping boom, it may meet our requirements for erecting the tower and placing the lantern on the gallery deck. If it does, he will donate its use. Once we hear from Luxembourg what their needs will be and the approximate weight of the lantern, I will pursue this issue.

Still waiting to hear back from the state building inspector regarding whether or not she wlll require us to change some of our first floor ceiling to make them fire rated. If she insists, the currently installed new lighting will have to be removed. This would deviate from the approved plans we are working with. Was told I'd be contacted by last Monday or Tuesday, but still waiting. Hopefully our city building inspector, who approved the rough electrical work, can convince his wife what we've done is conforming to the historical code that was to be used on the first floor of the Light Station. Will call his office or drop in tomorrow.

Nancy S.: Ron gave me a gentle lesson on the correct way to hang drywall. Will fill you in next time I see you. Also, the article on the LS in is today's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Ozaukee Section. Once again your name or picture wasn't included. Please believe me, I'd much rather have seen your photo and your name instead of mine. I'll just have to post a photo on our website so the world knows who the faceless Nancy S. is. And, I am grateful for all the work you've done and the company you've provided. Kathleen O'Donnell, Jeanne Lambin (NTHP) and the president of the Lighthouse Preservation Society were also quoted in the article. Wish it had added that we need donations and what our mailing address is. Oh well, publicity is publicity.

October 1 we can start submitting some of our new contractor costs for reimbursement under the Coastal Management Grant. This grant can be used only for exterior work. Neuens and Advanced Restoration are aware that it may take 60 to 90 days for the payments to come through. Stan's Carpentry is not working under this parameter.

Our next quarterly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, 2001. As usual it will be at the Ansay Insurance Bldg. Rick has agreed to give a short presentation on the wreck of the car ferry Milwaukee and then show a video on it. Ardy agreed to notify the Press with the info.

Still haven't connected with Dan McC regarding the boilers. Dan, got your message and will try to meet with you this week. If you'd like to meet at the LS, can do that at your convenience. With the board's desire, now, to secure air conditioning or at least the ductwork, I need more time to see what we can do. If you can assist me with that, that'd be great.

Rick and I spoke with Jim Woodward, of Cleveland. Look forward to receiving his tower/lantern drawings this week. Thanks for your help, Jim. Hope to meet you one day soon.

The sun is now full up and another week begins.


Back to the Light Station Renovation home page


This page updated Wednesday, November 07, 2001