GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Two iconic West Michigan lighthouses could soon be opened to the public as museums and shops for the first time in over a century.
The entrance and inner lighthouses that mark the Grand Haven pier need to be repaired if that is to happen, and the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy needs help and money to finish the job.
The pier has seen plenty of change over the years, especially recently. Countless fundraising efforts have transformed the concrete pier itself, the iconic catwalk and even the exteriors of the lights.
The insides have been largely untouched since they were gutted some forty years ago.
“There’s nothing inside, the walls empty, the wall covering is all missing, down to the bare studs,” President of The Grand Haven Conservancy, Dave Karpin said. “Now we want to get inside the lighthouses, put some finishing touches on there, some electrical work, and open them up to the public as a destination.”
According to the state park service, nearly one-million visitors walk the pier every summer. The untapped potential of the lights converted to small scale shops and educational pieces has Karpin excited.
“We obviously need to make money with this project to continue the restoration after our initial campaign has finished,” Karpin said. “The vision is to preserve the lighthouses and interpret them for educational purposes, bring the kids out and show them how the lighthouses were years ago.”
Before that can happen, The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy needs to raise about a million dollars in the next couple years. A fundraising kickoff event is planned during Winter Fest in Grand Haven. That event centers on a live and silent auction held Saturday from 2-7 p.m. at The Eagles Lodge at the corner of Columbus Avenue and N 2nd Street.
Karpin says the auction will feature nearly one hundred items, some of historical value, including a 99-year-old catwalk bend.
“We hope to get a jump start on our fundraising efforts after the auction, Marushka, a local screen printing shop is also selling t-shirts to help support us,” Karpin said. “I think it’s exciting that the city is anxious and they want to come out and they want to see the inside of these light houses.”
The last time the lighthouses were briefly opened to the public was a few years back during the cities Labor Day bridge walk.
“We had 1,300 visitors in just under two hours,” Karpin said. “That was before any work was done! There was lead paint peeling off the inside it was terrible.”
If all goes to plan The Conservancy plans to open the lighthouse, first on a part time basis, in 2021.
They’re looking for help with volunteers and sponsors. for more information on how you can get involved or become a donor, you can contact Grand Haven City Hall at 616.847.4888 or email Dave Karpin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prices for donor plaques range from $500 to $50,000 and will be placed on the inner light lantern room, portholes, windows and doors.