UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – Lighthouses line the coast of the Upper Peninsula. Thanks to some help in the form of $106,000 in Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) grants from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), two historic lighthouses in the U.P. will be able to move forward with preservation efforts.

Rock of Ages Lighthouse and Eagle Harbor Lighthouse were selected as the grant recipients.

“The historic lighthouses lining our freshwater shoreline—the longest in the world—are part of the splendor of Pure Michigan,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a statement on Friday. “I am proud that we are making an investment today to preserve these structures, reminding us of our past and encouraging us to move towards the light.” 

“We’re proud to help Michiganders across the state preserve the historic lighthouses that beautify and enrich our state’s shorelines,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “We’re making government work for everyone by providing convenient and efficient services that meet the needs of all Michiganders and our state’s historic treasures.” 

“Michigan’s historic lighthouses endure harsh weather, year after year. These icons on our shorelines require constant maintenance and attention,” said Michigan’s Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Martha MacFarlane-Faes. “Our lighthouse preservation grants help repair and restore these beacons, so they can connect us with our maritime heritage for years to come.”  

Rock of Ages Lighthouse. Photo courtesy: Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society Volunteer

Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society which oversees the lighthouse, which sits three miles off the coast of Isle Royale National Park, is receiving a MLAP grant of $46,000 with a match amount of $23,000. The funds will be used to hire a contractor for rehabilitating the 132-foot-tall lighthouse bye cleaning and painting the exterior. The lighthouse hasn’t been painted since 1985.

“We are very excited to receive this grant from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program,” said Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society Executive Director David Gerth. “Cracking, missing vent covers, and heavy lichen growth on the exterior masonry of Rock of Ages Lighthouse are causing water infiltration that threatens to halt interior restoration efforts. This grant will allow us to hire a contractor to clean, repair, and paint the exterior masonry of the tower ensuring that interior restoration may continue as scheduled.  This project marks a huge step toward our goal of opening the lighthouse to the public in the future.” 

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Photo Courtesy: Bryan Lijewski, State Historic Preservation Office 
Keweenaw County Historical Society 

In Eagle Harbor, the Keweenaw County Historical Society will hire a contractor to work on the tower of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. They received a MLAP grant of $60,000 with a matching amount of $39,000. Proposed in the rehabilitation plan is replacing the brick exterior and repairing damaged plaster on the inside of the tower. Repairs also include put aren’t limited to wall water diversion, and deck and lantern room repair.

“The Keweenaw County Historical Society is very appreciative of receiving this grant award, especially since we are a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization,” said Keweenaw County Historical Society President Mel Jones. “This funding will help us preserve and maintain our 150+-year old lighthouse in a manner that is historically correct.”