Preserving the Whiskey Point Light
If there's one landmark on Beaver Island that represents our rich historical ambiance more than any other, it would have to be the Whiskey Point Light. Erected in 1856, it has shone its protective beacon to guide sailors and fishermen to safety ever since, becoming a symbol of the precariousness and hope of a life made on or near the lake. Twenty years after its construction, the Life-saving Service was started, which evolved into the Coast Guard. A brick Keeper's House was attached to the Light until Captain Bennett tore it down. (Winters, the last Keeper, was often seen hiding from his wife in the nearby trees.) A crew barracks was added, and a boathouse built in 1939.
But nothing lasts forever, and as the Coast Guard began paring down its assets there was a danger of the Light falling into private hands. But thanks to a lot of work by St. James Supervisor Don Vyse, a renewable 10-year lease was secured 2 years ago. Now the Township is ready to take the next step and move towards full ownership.
To do this, the Township hopes to form a partnership with the Historical Society, which would help garner Island support and create a long-term development plan covering its maintenance and use. The process for accomplishing this will be long and complicated, with every step of the eventual restoration approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. But it can't start quickly enough, because as anyone sees who take a close look, the bricks are coming apart at an increasing rate. If everything falls into place, a lot of effort over the next decade could ensure that this Light continues to wash over our tumultuous shores.
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