At the October 4, 2000 St. James Township Board Meeting, Supervisor Don Vyse announced the receipt of a completed Historic Property Lease for the St. James Harbor Light. The lease is for 10 years, renewable for two additional 10 year periods and provides an opportunity for the community to work towards preserving this structure that is so important to the history of the Island.
The U. S. Coast Guard is not abandoning the lighthouse and will continue to operate the light as an aid to navigation. St. James Township will have control of the tower structure and the surrounding land. By entering into the Historic Lease Agreement, the Township will be eligible to apply for grant funding to restore and rehabilitate the structure and the surrounding grounds, though any work first must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Officer.
The existing historic tower light was first lit in 1870 and automated in 1927. The original and present optic is a Fourth Order Fresnel installed in 1870 and, according to the lease agreement, will still be under the control of the U. S. Coast Guard. The free standing brick tower is 41 feet high. There are no keepers quarters as this structure was dismantled in the past.
A special thanks goes to the office of Congressman Bart Stupak, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, and the ninth Coast Guard District Staff for their assistance in acquiring this lease.
If anyone is interested in this historic preservation project, please feel free to contact the St. James Township Supervisor, Box 85, Beaver Island, Michigan 49782.
--thanks to BIPOA for the story
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