Historic Michigan lighthouses awarded $100,000 in lighthouse preservation grants

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Two lighthouses receive funds to focus on long-term preservation initiatives, keep lights shining bright on Lake Michigan


LANSING, MICH. – Two historic Michigan lighthouses will make progress on long-term preservation efforts with the help of $100,000 in Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) grants from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.

“Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and these beacons stand tall as icons of our shoreline communities. As a result of enduring decades of harsh weather, our lighthouses require constant maintenance and attention,” said Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Officer Mark A. Rodman. “Our lighthouse preservation grants help repair and restore these beacons, so they can connect us with our maritime heritage for years to come.”

Funding for this program comes solely from the sale of specialty Save Our Lights license plates available from the Michigan Secretary of State. To date, SHPO has awarded nearly $2.8 million in matching funds to help rehabilitate and preserve lighthouses for tourists and residents alike to explore and appreciate. To learn more about lighthouse preservation in Michigan, visit http://www.michigan.gov/saveourlights.

“Thanks to those residents who pay a little extra for a lighthouse license plate, we are able to award grants that help preserve these iconic Michigan structures for the long term,” Rodman said.

The 2022 MLAP grant recipients are:


Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association
MLAP grant amount: $40,000
Location of nearest city: Ludington
Historic resource: Big Sable Point Light Station
Match amount: $20,000
Use of funds: The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association will hire a contractor to complete a historic structures report for the Big Sable Point Light Station. A historic structure report is a fundamental component of preservation planning which provides information about a property's history, documents existing conditions and addresses management goals and rehabilitation priorities for the use or re-use of the property.

“The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association is so pleased to receive this MLAP grant to help us achieve a major strategic goal of funding a Historic Structure Report for the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. We are looking forward to working with the State Historic Preservation Office and DNR Parks and Recreation to get this done,” said Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association Executive Director Peter Manting. “It is exciting to be able to share this with our membership as a majority of our members purchase the lighthouse license plate and they will be thrilled to know that their funds are being granted this year to SPLKA.”

Photo courtesy of Mike Borstler

City of Grand Haven
MLAP grant amount: $60,000
Historic resource: Grand Haven Entrance Lights
Location of nearest city: Grand Haven
Match amount: $76,409
Use of funds: The City of Grand Haven will hire a contractor to rehabilitate the Grand Haven South Pier Entrance and Inner Lights. Proposed work will include the repair of the exterior concrete wall and deck surfaces; restoring the exterior concrete stairs; restoring the concrete curb and installing new metal flashing; and repainting.

“The South Pier Lights in Grand Haven continue their transformation to among the most well-preserved and accessible lights on the Great Lakes. The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy continues its partnership work of raising funds and awareness to make sure these treasures are the best they can be. The grant from the MLAP will supplement funds raised locally and are the next step in a multi-year approach to complete preservation and, soon, opening the lights regularly to public enjoyment,” said Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis. “This grant will help restore the concrete deck and railings of the entrance light, which is among the most recognizable and familiar lights on the Great Lakes. The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy is forever grateful for the support provided by SHPO and the people of the State of Michigan.”

With more than 120 lighthouses standing sentinel along Michigan’s 3,200 miles of shoreline, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the country. Established in 2000 when many lighthouses were transferred out of federal ownership, the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program is intended to help lighthouse stewards restore and repair their historic lighthouses, which in turn helps keep them open and an active part of local economies around the state as tourist and learning destinations.

The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program was established to assist in the preservation, rehabilitation, and protection of historic lighthouses in Michigan. To qualify for an MLAP grant, applicants must have at least 50 percent of the MLAP grant amount in matching funds.

“Michigan’s iconic lighthouses offer something for every traveler – from lighthouse enthusiasts, to history buffs, to curious tourists looking to get out there and experience one of Pure Michigan’s many gems,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the state’s official agency for the promotion of tourism. “Programs like the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program are extremely important in supporting our tourism efforts across the state, and we’re pleased that these two one-of-a-kind coastal treasures will soon be restored for all to enjoy.”

Many of Michigan’s lighthouses are open for tours in the warm weather season. Others are home to bed and breakfast lodging or museums. Many lighthouse beacons are still active aids to navigation, but the buildings themselves are owned and maintained by a nonprofit organization or local unit of government. A few are privately owned or in remote locations, inviting admiration from afar. Travelers interested in exploring Michigan’s lighthouses can learn more by visiting here. To watch a video on Michigan’s lighthouses, visit here.

About the State Historic Preservation Office
Focused on the historic preservation of culturally or archaeologically significant sites throughout the state, Michigan's State Historic Preservation Office’s main function is to provide technical assistance to local communities and property owners in their efforts to identify, evaluate, designate, interpret and protect Michigan’s historic above- and below-ground resources. SHPO also administers an incentives program that includes federal tax credits and pass-through grants available to certified local governments.

To learn more about the State Historic Preservation Office and the Save Our Lights license plate program, visit https://www.miplace.org/historic-preservation/.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.