From Lori Taylor Blitz, Beaver Island Historical society
We are finally ready to move forward on restoration and preservation of the Beaver Head Lighthouse! Please join us as we begin this exciting project! You can make a difference by donating today to Beaver Island Historical Society. Donations can be made via this GoFundMe page or mailed directly to the Beaver Island Historical Society, PO Box 263, Beaver Island, MI 49782. Please note on your check "Beaver Head Lighthouse." To reach the society via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Click the Link Below
Fundraiser by Beaver Island Historical Society (Beaver Island Historical Society) : Preserve the Beaver Head Lighthouse (gofundme.com)
The Beaver Island Historical Society, in collaboration with Charlevoix County and Networks Northwest, is fundraising to bring a group of historical preservation experts to the island in the summer of 2022. Eastern Michigan University's Historic Preservation Graduate Field School will assess the preservation needs of our Beaver Head Lighthouse--the third oldest on the Great Lakes.
Our vision is for the lighthouse to be restored and sustainable. We have many ideas for public access including a museum in the Keeper's House attached to the lighthouse.
All funds collected will be used to help graduate students with lodging, travel, and preservation supplies needed to complete their work.
Eastern Michigan University’s Historic Preservation Program (EMU HPP) conducts an annual one-week, hands-on field school with about twenty students, two faculty members, and a field school managers assist in the preservation and/or restoration of an historic structure or its contents. The Field School introduces a variety of preservation and restoration techniques such as masonry, plastering, painting, cataloguing of artifacts, documenting the historic structure, and much more. For more information about the program visit: https://www.emich.edu/geography-geology/programs/historic-preservation/glance.php
To learn more about the Beaver Island Historical Society's mission to Preserve and Share the Unique History of the Archipelago please visit https://www.beaverislandhistory.org/
Charlevoix county board of commissioners: reviewing plans for south end lighthouse
Charlevoix commissioners met Wednesday, November 10 in an open discussion meeting about the Beaver Head Lighthouse property, several Beaver Island residents came to comment and offer suggestions.
Concerned about the current declining state of the area, commissioners heard a report from Matt McCauley of Networks Northwest. Networks Northwest owns 49% of the approximately 197-acre property, while Charlevoix County owns the other 51%.
Since the partners purchased the property in 2018, they have sought ways to utilize it in a way that would fit for the island community, and both partners while keeping the National Historic Register and historical status in place.
According to McCauley, there was a “bare bones” improvement plan in the works until Covid-19 restrictions affected any further actions. McCauley also stated that a federal policy is stopping the partners from using the property as a school similar to the former public-school programs there.
McCauley gave a full report on possibilities and land use, remaining positive about the stakeholders continuing to work together to keep the property in current ownership without selling or leasing, as Commissioner Roelof suggested. Commissioner Rheinhardt of District stated his reluctance to invest any taxpayer monies from other county districts that are suffering in greater ways than the Beaver Island district. As an example, he talked about his district’s fire department lacking the capability to have water to fight fires. As various citizens came forward to express support and offer ideas for the property, in particular about the land being included in a dark sky sanctuary; Reinhardt said, “That’s for rich people. I’m a farmer, we just go out into a field and look at the stars” After Lori Taylor Blitz spoke about possible grants and monies available, Reinhardt later stated reluctant support.
Taylor-Blitz, Director, Beaver Island Historical Society spoke about the $15, 000 value volunteer hours over the last few years on improvements to the Lighthouse. Recent projects included a new, handcrafted door installation, painting the barn and installing new skirting on the porch. Blitz also offered visitor logs and gave the percentage of visitors from Charlevoix County as an indicator about how visitors to the lighthouse go through the city of Charlevoix and the County, spending tourist dollars on the way. After Commissioner Chris Christensen admitted to “dropping the ball” on the project due to Covid-19 restrictions, Blitz said it was not too late to pick up that ball and reconsider investing money that could be significantly added to with existing grant monies well over 7500 dollars. Blitz said, “those grants can be applied for, once a Capital Improvement Plan is in place.”
Other commissioners said they were hesitant to commit to any improvements to the property due to the 1–2-million-dollar repair bill as indicated by Commissioner Robert Jess.
Jess and the board seemed to be in agreement about reconsidering the future of the property after presentations from Bill McDonough, Nancy Ferguson, Ed and Betty Salveter and Cynthia Hector Johnson and the valuable input from Blitz.
McDonough expressed thanks and support for the commissioners and Networks Northwest, speaking briefly about the success stories from students at the Lighthouse School.
Johnson, representing the Beaver Island Dark Sky Project Committee, spoke about the advantage of using the property as a dark sky place. Johnson said the property had been removed from the official application and boundaries for a sanctuary, due to the condition and lack of planning for the outdated lights on the property. Johnson also pointed out that taxpayer money could be saved by turning off the lights on the property which remain burning day and night. Johnson also pointed out the lack of costs associated with leaving the land as is for a dark sky viewing area that could generate funds.
Commissioner Roelof spoke in support of leasing the property and later supported the formulation of a Capital Improvement Plan.
Chairman Christensen wrapped the public comment session up with a brief summary of the situation. He ended by stating that the three stakeholders, Beaver Island Historical Society and the Island, along with Networks Northwest and Charlevoix County would move forward to develop a Capital Improvement Plan.
At a December 8, 2021, meeting, Board members approved a Resolution of Support for the Beaver Head Light & Signal Station Restoration Grant Application.