St. James Township just received two reports about the Whiskey
Point Light, one from the archaeological firm assessing the site
and the other from the architect who evaluated the structure.
The first, Environmental Site Assessment, came from
Tetra Tech NUS in Pittsburgh. In a preliminary examination in
2001, chips from several layers of lead-based paint that were
applied since 1870 were found in the ground, leading to a more
thorough study. But no storage tank leaks, asbestos, or other
hazardous chemicals were found. Also, this is not considered to
be an area of potential radon infection.
The second report is from John Dziurman Architects Ltd, and includes
a note on the Light's history. The first Light built on this site
came into existence in 1856, at a time when dozens of boats came
into the harbor every day. Congress authorized spending $5,000
for the station.
In 1870 the first Light was replaced with a taller (41') double-walled
tower: The outer wall was 12" thick covered with soft brick;
then there was a 2" air space; then a 4" inner brick
wall was coated with plaster. At the top, 5 concentric brick rings
encircled the tower. The light had a 12-mile visibility.
In 1885 a major stabilization program filled in the cellar beneath
the attached dwelling. The former barn was converted to a summer
kitchen, and a kerosene storage building was added. In 1915 the
Life-saving Service became the Coast Guard. In the early 1940s
the outbuildings were demolished.
The architect proposed a program involving several steps: stabilization
of the building; eliminating pests; waterproofing the building;
securing the site; venting the building; upgrading the utilities;
and developing a use and protection plan. He estimated various
restoration costs: $112,500 for the brick tower; $12,780 for various
external features; $3,550 for new windows; and $9,375 for interior
work. Including such things as lighting, furnishings, and landscaping,
and factoring in the difficulties of working on Beaver Island,
his estimate was that the total cost would be almost $210,000.
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