Historic Michigan lighthouse awarded $60,000 lighthouse preservation grant

MEDC Communications

Thursday, April 18, 2024

City of Grand Haven will use funds to rehabilitate the Grand Haven South Pier Inner Light

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Photo courtesy of Drew Mason


LANSING, Mich. – The historic South Pier Inner Light in Grand Haven, Michigan, will receive repairs from the City of Grand Haven with the help of a $60,000 Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) grant from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.

“Michigan’s lighthouses are irreplaceable cultural icons that connect us to the state’s maritime history. SHPO’s lighthouse preservation grants help local stewards protect and preserve these assets for all of us,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Ryan Schumaker. “SHPO is pleased to assist the City of Grand Haven this year in its continuing efforts to preserve the iconic South Pier lights.”

With the grant, the City of Grand Haven will hire a contractor to rehabilitate the Inner Light, including repairing and repainting exterior and interior wall surfaces, fabricating and install missing hatches, restoring the lantern door and lantern room interior elements, and refinishing stairs, handrails, and guardrails, all of which will help the City meet needs identified in a 2015 historic structure report completed by the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy in partnership with the City. 

“The City of Grand Haven is thrilled to be the recipient of Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program funding, in working with the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy, to facilitate further restoration work on our lights,” said Ashley Latsch, city manager for the City of Grand Haven. “Programs like MLAP make it possible to preserve these iconic lights for the enjoyment of generations to come.”

This work complements ongoing preservation efforts at the South Pier Entrance Light, which, alongside the Inner Light, are part of range light system established in 1907. Acquired by the City of Grand Haven in 2013, the lights were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and are key to heritage tourism initiatives and the visitor experience in Grand Haven, which is vital to the region’s economy.

“This matching grant provides an opportunity to multiply the donations made by our residents and visitors who have shown their support in the community they love,” noted Dave Karpin, chair of the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy.

The lights, surrounding beaches, and nearby Musical Fountain help draw over a million visitors to the city each year. Through their work, the City of Grand Haven and the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy help to ensure these heritage assets remain for future generations and incrementally work toward opening the structures to the public to further provide engagement and education. For more information on Grand Haven’s lights, visit here.

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, the Michigan SHPO has awarded nearly $2.9 million in matching funds to help rehabilitate and preserve dozens of lighthouses for tourists and residents alike to explore and appreciate. To learn more about lighthouse preservation in Michigan and order your plate, visit http://www.michigan.gov/saveourlights.


“Because of the generosity of people who pay a little extra for a lighthouse license plate, we are able to award grants each year that help preserve these symbolic Michigan structures for the long term,” Schumaker said.

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. Applications for the next round of MLAP funding will be available in August 2024.

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 exploring some of 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 and state 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.