As with many early lighthouses information on the Windmill Point Lighthouse in Grosse Pointe, Michigan is very scarce. The first lighthouse was built here in 1838 and rebuilt in 1866, 1875 and in 1891. The nearly 57 foot tall tower had two different keeper’s houses during its existence. At first glance the original keeper’s house looks like an old life saving station. Some reports indicate that the structure was sold and moved from the site when a larger keeper’s house was built, while other reports indicated that it was altered and enlarged.
The light in the tower was a 4th order fixed white light with a revolving flash apparatus.
The lighthouse was actually part of range lights, with one of the other beacons on a platform with an enclosed cage that housed a lantern that was raised and lowered for lighting and fuel. Another one was a conical tower that was moved from the site in 1931 to become the Lower Nicolet West Range Front Lighthouse on the north end of Michigan’s Neebish Island on the St. Mary’s River. Although that beacon still stands it is no longer used.
The report by the Secretary of the Treasury in March of 1890 asking for the funds to build the Windmill Point Light Station stated that for some time private lights had been maintained below Windmill Point to mark its crossing and that federal aids should be built and maintained. The report stated, “It appears that a range light is needed to mark the channel between Windmill Point and Belle Isle. The distance is about 2 ½ miles, and the main channel crosses to the east side of the island, passing between the shoals at the foot of Isle Aux Peches and the head of Belle Isle with a width of about 1,000 feet.”
The lighthouse station was often referred to be locals and some post card manufactures of the time as the Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, which causes some confusion when one attempt to research the history of the area. Although there is currently a modern conical tower that is named the Windmill Point Lighthouse, it can never be compared to once beautiful original Windmill Point Lighthouse that once stood guard on the Detroit River that is now one of America’s forgotten lighthouses.
Editor’s Note: We are searching for additional information on the Windmill Pointe Lighthouse and we welcome additional photographs and historical information. Mail to: Editor, Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630 or email Editor@LighthouseDigest.com.
This story appeared in the
April 2008 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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