Six years ago, the Historical Association of South Haven embarked on an ambitious $ 300,000 fundraiser to restore the city’s historic lighthouse.
With the goal achieved in less than a year and the popular lakeside landmark restored to its former glory in 2017, the historic group is now focusing on lighting the interior of the beacon, including the lens. de Fresnel guided the sailors to the port of South Haven. for over a century.
The historic association contracted with Will Hart, owner of Improvisational Craftsman in Casco Township, to replace the six portholes that once lit the 33-foot-tall lighthouse that stands at the entrance to the town’s harbor. .
“In the early 1970s, the Coast Guard removed all but one of the lighthouse’s portholes,” said Jim Ollgaard, president of the historical association. “At that time, there were persistent problems of vandalism and the need for interior lighting was met by electric lighting that had been installed years before.
But with the lighthouse restoration completed four years ago, the historical association was left with a nagging thought – all but one historic porthole, except one, had been removed and covered in metal.
Believing that the restoration was not completely completed, the historical association decided to act this year.
“The South Haven Historical Association, Owners of Light, have an agreement with the National Park Service to maintain the exterior as it was in the 1950s and pursuant to that agreement, HASH began a replacement program. portholes, “says Ollgaard.
Earlier this month, one of the circular blanks, marking the location of one of the beacon’s original six portholes, was removed in preparation for the installation of the first new porthole.
“Will Hart designed and manufactured the new windows and will also take care of the installation,” said Ollgaard. “There are 6 portholes. One has never been deleted, so five will be replaced. Vandalism was solved by using extra thick plastic instead of glass and they are designed so that the clear plastic can be easily replaced. Installation involves cutting out the steel blank currently in place, grinding the hole to fit the cylindrical portion of the porthole, then bolting it to the wall of the light, sealing it with a thick gasket and putty marine.
The historic association hopes to replace all the windows by the end of 2022.
When the task is completed, the South Haven Lighthouse will be one of the few historic lighthouses on Lake Michigan with restored portholes.
“The list (of lighthouses with visible portholes) would not be long,” said Ollgaard.