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Preservation Society Raising $50K for Lighthouse

FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2023

The “Paint the Rock Challenge” is seeking donations to repair and paint the Rock of Ages Lighthouse on Lake Superior in Michigan later this summer.

Launched by the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society, money from the fundraiser will reportedly help hire a contractor to paint the building, as well as complete interior restoration work in lower parts of the tower.

The lighthouse was originally completed in 1908, remaining in operation until 1978. It stands at 137 feet tall, and the light from the structure could reportedly be seen from 29 miles away.

It reportedly helped navigate vessels traveling between the North Shore and Isle Royale. The project was undertaken after two vessels, the Henry Chisholm and the Cumberland, struck the Rock of Ages reef and sunk.

The lighthouse was automated in 1978, after which it reportedly fell into disrepair. Owned by the National Park Service, volunteers from the preservation society have been working to restore the building since 2015.

According to reports, water damage is an ongoing issue at the lighthouse due to cracks in the masonry and missing vent covers that allow moisture buildup during the offseason on multiple floors.

David Gerth, Board Chair of the Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society, told WTIP that the society has fully restored three of the ten floors to allow keepers and volunteers to stay on the premises while working.

“Now we’re moving to the exterior work to try and tackle some of those big projects outside of the tower,” Gerth said. “We’re going to be working on the masonry of the tower and painting the masonry of the tower.”

Because it is specialized work, the society aims to hire a contractor to repair and paint the masonry during the 2023 summer season. As of Thursday (March 23), the fundraiser has received over $35,000 of its $50,000 goal in donations.

“Make a donation today to help protect the lighthouse interior and give Rock of Ages Lighthouse a beautiful exterior that will allow this 10-story, historic, engineering marvel to continue to serve as a welcoming guidepost to visitors to Isle Royale National Park's West end,” writes the society.

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Gerth said he hopes to open up the Rock of Ages Lighthouse to the public in the future.

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Last month, it was reported that an historic lighthouse in Georgia was undergoing a conditions assessment in preparation for a painting project scheduled for next year. The Tybee Island Light Station is reportedly the oldest and tallest lighthouse in the state.

Originally constructed back in 1736, the Tybee Light Station is reportedly one of America’s most intact lighthouses, having all of its historic support buildings on the three-acre site. The structure is octagonal in shape, built up with brickwork and cedar piles.

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A restoration project began in 1999 by the Tybee Island Historical Society, and the tower was repainted in the black-white-black daymark in 2002. The lighthouse and surrounding acres feature an on-location museum, gift shop and an opportunity to climb the 178 steps to the top of the beacon.

According to reports, the Light Station is due to undergo an almost $1 million painting project in 2024. However, before that occurs, workers will conduct a conditions assessment to determine their next steps.

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Specifically, the crews are looking at the stucco on the lighthouse that coats the brick. During the repainting process, workers are reportedly hoping to strip off all the existing paint. The assessment reportedly began on Feb. 6 and was expected to be completed by March 16.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; Masonry; Masonry coatings; Moisture Remediation - Commercial; National Park Service; National Park Service; Preservation; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Rehabilitation/Repair; Upcoming projects; water damage


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