The 148-year-old keeper's dwelling at the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Station received a new roof during
the summer of 2005. This lighthouse is located on Lake Huron's western shore about six miles north of Port Hope, Michigan. The first lighthouse was built here in 1847 and went into commission during
the spring of 1848. The present 89-foot tall tower with attached keeper's dwelling was constructed in 1857.
The roof restoration was the result of a dedicated effort by Mr. Steve Romzek, superintendent of Huron County Parks and the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society (PABLS). The funds for this project were made available from Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality through a grant request written by Romzek. Huron County owns this lighthouse, with the last part of the property — the lighthouse tower — being transferred to them in 2003. The Society participated in the roof restoration by doing historical research and providing this documented information to various state agencies, such as Michigan's State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO). This research resulted in wood cedar shingles being used on the new roof instead of the planned asphalt shingles. This research also provided SHPO with photos from the lighthouse's period of significance (1890-1920) which resulted in both the keeper's dwelling chimneys being rebuilt using original detail. Another result of the research was proof that cooper rain gutters and downspouts were originally used. These have been missing for years and will now be back in place. Cooper flashing and drip edge will also be used in the restoration.
The Society's efforts also resulted in a Historical Structures Report (HSR) being completed in 2005 for this light station. PABLS initiated the funding for the HSR and provided the majority of the historical data and photos for the report.
PABLS enjoys a good working relationship with Huron County and has been recognized by the county's leaders as being the group that will help preserve the lighthouse's history and structures. PABLS has renewed the displays in the two museums inside the lighthouse, originally set up during the 1980s by the county, with new, accurate information and photos covering the lighthouse station, its adjoining life saving station, and the shipwreck preserve located in the waters off the lighthouse. PABLS has also helped restore some of the rooms inside the lighthouse.
In connection with the roof restoration, plans call for new fascia and soffits for the lighthouse keeper's dwelling. Replicas of
the original shutters will also be made
and mounted. These had been missing
for years. PABLS research efforts found
an original shutter in storage and logbook entries showing the shutters had first been made and mounted on August 27, 1878. Over the past several years, dedicated
local and national research efforts by PABLS have uncovered previously unknown facts about the lighthouse and also corrected much erroneous printed information about this lighthouse.
Additionally, after the lighthouse keeper's dwelling roof was replaced, a late summer decision was made by the county to replace the roof on the assistant keeper's dwelling which was built in 1908. This 1908 building is located just south of the lighthouse and presently has an asphalt shingle roof. PABLS research done several years ago revealed this building originally had a metal shingle roof. Working closely with Romzek, this information and photo documentation by PABLS convinced him to replace the present deteriorated roof with a metal roof that closely matches the original one. Ironically, while Romzek was recently inspecting this roof, he found the original metal shingles still in place under the asphalt shingles. If all goes as planned, this roof will be finished during the late months of 2005.
This lighthouse is located in a beautiful county park and can be viewed from outside all year round at no charge. However, the lighthouse museum is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The county's park trustees are showing a commitment to preserving this jewel of Huron County. PABLS is also showing its commitment in many ways. One of them is by hosting an annual Heritage Days Festival at the lighthouse that includes tours of the normally closed lighthouse tower — which is still an active aid to navigation. For more information, go to www.LighthouseDigest.com, type Point aux Barques in the search box and it will lead you to information on the lighthouse.
This story appeared in the
November 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.