Historic Structures

Presque Isle Light Station (Light House), Presque Isle Michigan

Date added: October 15, 2013 Categories: Michigan Lighthouse

The Presque Isle Light Station complex is composed of three historic buildings and one contemporary structure located on the Presque Isle Harbor Peninsula in Presque Isle County, Michigan. The light tower is the most significant element of the complex and stand centered in the 99-acre lighthouse reserve, built in 1870. It is a conical brick structure measuring 113 feet in height from the base to the ventilator ball of the lantern, approximately 21 feet in diameter at the base, and 12 feet in diameter at the head. The walls at the base are 5.5 feet thick and are composed of a 2-foot outer wall, a 2.5-foot air space, and an inside wall that is 12 inches thick. At the parapet, the walls are approximately 5 feet thick and are composed of a 16-inchouter wall, a 4-inch air space, and an inner wall that is 8 inches thick. The entire structure rests on a limestone foundation extending more than 9.5 feet below ground level. The light tower stands 24 feet above water level with the lantern's focal plane set at 129 feet.

Exterior detailing of the white-painted light tower is limited to an entry door in a simple wood enframement at the base and eight windows, four in trabeated enframements staggered on the brick shaft and four in rounded enframements balanced around the crown. The crown displays two brick ribbon courses below its band of windows and a cracked iron cornice line that supports an iron gallery located six feet below the lantern. The spiral iron stairway with simple pipe railings and treads presents 138 steps and six landings. A wood doorway in the watch room at the top opens onto the iron gallery seen from the outside.

The light in the tower originally was fixed white with a French-made order Fresnel lens ground by Henry Lepaute that produced a light visible for eighteen to nineteen statute miles. The U.S. Coast Guard automated the light tower in 1970 and continues to operate it today. The light utilizes the original lens, although a 1000-wattlamp with 40,000 candlepower and a 360 degree arc of visibilityhas increased it operational range to twenty miles. The light also utilizes the original polygonal lantern measuring eight feet in diameter with ten rectangular glass panes two-and-one half by six feet in size.

A passageway, measuring 16 feet in length, connects the light tower to a keeper's dwelling built in 1870. The house is a two-story brick building, measuring 31x31 feet in size, with a full basement, an ell, and a slate-covered gable roof.

An unattached keeper's dwelling stands directly southeast of the light tower and its attached residence. This home, built in 1905, is a two-story,rough-faced,concrete block building, measuring 35x27 feet in size, with a full basement and gambrel roof.

The fourth and last building of the station complex is a single-story,concrete block structure, built in 1960. Measuring 24x65 feet in size, the building serves as an automobile storage area, as a workshop for the complex, as an office, and as a visitors' reception facility.