Keeping the Light Burning Bright
The video above, provided by St. Clair County Parks, highlights the long history and importance of the Fort Gratiot Light Station as well as providing an overview of the extensive restoration work that was completed on the tower.
The five-acre retired Coast Guard Station includes the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse (1829), which is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan. It was officially transferred to St. Clair County Parks from the United States Coast Guard in 2010.
The Light Station includes the Light Keeper’s Duplex (1874), Fog Signal Building (1900), Single Keeper’s Dwelling (1932), former Coast Guard Station (1932), Equipment Building (1939), and a three bay garage (1990’s).
The agreement with the Federal Government requires St. Clair County Parks to oversee the restoration of the site, following the Historic Structures Report. The report is a guideline for how the site should be restored, beginning with the light tower. Following the report, restoration of the tower began in the fall of 2011 and was completed in the spring of 2012 and reopened for tours. The restoration of the tower was made possible by a Save America’s Treasures Grant and a match from the city of Port Huron.
All improvements to the site are being completed with various grants and donations. In the fall of 2011, roof repairs were made to the Fog Signal Building and the Equipment Building using grants from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP). The matching funds were provided by the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light.
Restoration of the Equipment Building, located at the entrance to the site, has been completed. The building houses the Light Station Gift Shop, operated by the Port Huron Museum. This project included a new roof, new windows, and new shutters - all fabricated to 1939 standards in line with site restoration requirements. The building was painted inside. The aluminum siding was removed, allowing for repair and restoration of the original cedar siding.
Restoration of the Light Keeper’s Duplex and the Single Keeper’s Dwelling continues with replacement of wood porches on the buildings with brick, bringing the external appearance of the buildings to the 1930s. Restoration work in the kitchen and pantry of the Duplex Building was completed in winter 2017. The family room and parlor were restored over the winter of 2018. The roof was replaced. Restoration continues with 1930s period correct windows.
The Fog Signal building has received extensive work and next on tap is finding a resonator (horn)to replicate what was originally in the building.
In 2023, the Friends provided matching funds for the County to obtain a matching grant from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) to complete restoration of the Watch Room and Lantern Room on the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.