Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2014

Restoration at Cana Island


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Workers removing the porthole windows for ...

Another major step in the restoration of Wisconsin’s Cana Island took place this past September.

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Workers remove layers of parge (cement, stucco, ...

“The first weeks of the restoration at Cana Island Light Station consisted of deployment and staging of heavy equipment,” said Trudy Herbst, Director of Development for the Door County Maritime Museum which oversees historical interpretation on the island that is part of the Door County Park System.

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Distant view of the workers on the boom at Cana ...

Herbst went on to explain that, “Workers removed the portholes for refurbishment. Plexiglass portholes were installed temporarily. Crews removed layers of parge (cement coatings) on the light tower parapet (the metal platform and railing that wrap around the outside of the lantern room at the top of the tower). Removal of the parge revealed the tower’s original Milwaukee Cream City brick that had not been exposed in over 100 years.” Similar work has also begun on the foundation of the keeper’s house.

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Foundation repair work at the keeper’s house at ...

Crews examined the copper dome, brickwork, and the lantern’s eight glass panels in preparation for repairs. Once the inspections and evaluations were completed, workers tuck-pointed the brick and then re-set the glass panels.

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A rare view of the bricks on the Cana Island ...
Photo by: Dwight Zeller

Meanwhile, Baileys Harbor native and Landscape Architect William H. Tishler has begun field and archival research on a Cultural Landscape Report for the island. The report “guides management and treatment decisions about a landscape’s physical attributes, biotic systems and use when that use contributes to historical significance,” as explained in A Guide to Cultural Landscape Reports by Page, Gilbert, and Dolan. His report will outline a management strategy for each significant landscape component such as gardens, trees, stone walls, and archways that graced Cana Island Light Station during its historic period of significance 1918-1939.

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The museum has been working with the County of Door to secure funding for the multi-million dollar project. To date, funds represent about $2.9 million worth of projects, with considerable financial support from the Jeffris Family Foundation, Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, Raibrook Foundation, Wisconsin Coastal Management, the Door County community, and the Door County Maritime Museum family. The cooperative project dates back to 2009, and the Historic Structures Report maps the steps necessary for preservation and an optimal visitor experience.

Phase two began three years ago with construction of vault toilets and a maintenance room on the island. Land acquisition followed a year later to secure safe public access with construction of a parking lot on the mainland side of the causeway that leads to the island. The parking lot opened last year, easing problematic roadside parking at the popular tourist attraction.

According to Herbst, work projects will continue over time as funds become available. Plans under discussion and on the drawing board are contingent on future funding. The plans include restoration of the privy, stone hexagon-shaped oil house, storage shed, and interior restoration of the keeper’s house and light tower. Additional projects are installation of state of the art exhibits, implementation of the Cultural Landscape Report, re-creation of the summer kitchen, and construction of a Welcome Center. In today’s dollars, the estimate to complete the restoration checklist and additional projects is in the $2.5 million range.

For more information and updates visit www.dcmm.org.

(Unless otherwise indicated, photographs are courtesy of Amy Paul, Door County Maritime Museum and Lighthouse Preservation Society.)

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 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.

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