In the Spring of 2002 a small group of people gathered at the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse. Their only desire was to clean the Keeper’s house to make it more presentable for visitors.
After this initial effort it was decided that more work needed to be done. A group was formed, a name was chosen, officers were appointed, by-laws were written and a 501c3 non-profit corporation was formed. The Huron County Road Commission, through a grant provided by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), developed a Historic Structures Report (HSR). The HSR became a guideline for the fledgling Society and the Road Commission to follow in their vision of creating one of the finest Lighthouse Museums on the Great Lakes.
The initial efforts focused on the structures (house and tower) themselves. Although the Keeper’s house was in relatively good condition there was substantial exterior work necessary on both the house and 89-foot tower if they were to be preserved for prosperity. Through its fund-raising efforts, available grants and the support and help of the Road Commission a new cedar shake roof was installed, the exterior of both structures was painted and new chimneys were constructed. Interior work was also undertaken - including repairing, sanding and sealing original wooden floors. Repairing damaged plaster, removing fixtures that were not original such as radiators, pipes and a bathroom. In recent years climate control has been added and a security system has been installed. The Road Commission has completed new windows and has worked with the Society to add a new ADA approved ramp and new sidewalks. Permanent informational signs have been added to the sidewalks circle around the front of the Lighthouse.
In 2008 the Society partitioned the United States Coast Guard to return the original 3rd order lens to its home in the Museum. This magnificent one of a kind, for the Great Lakes, served at the top of the tower from 1872 until it was removed in 1969. In 2013 the Lens was returned, restored and installed in the Museum where visitors can watch it rotate as it did for many years.
In the Summer of 2015 the Society was approached regarding the return of two of the original Life Saving Buildings that were positioned 300 yards south of the Light. This Station, the first on the Great Lakes, was active from 1876 until 1937, when decommissioned. The Road Commission took over and on November 1, 2017 the buildings were successfully moved back to Lighthouse Park and secured on new foundations. Extensive restoration will begin in 2018.
The Society, over the years, has also been very active in acquiring historical artifacts for display in the Museum, focusing on the Lighthouse, the nearby Life Saving station, Huron County and nautical history.
All of this work costs money. Although some grants are available, the great majority of the Society’s funding comes from Membership fees, donations and fund-raising activities. The Society operates a gift shop, on the premises, open six days a week. Festival Day is the first Saturday in August every year with food, tower climbing, music, vendors and history available.
The Museum is open every day from Memorial Day weekend until mid-October. The Tower is open for climbing on special occasions during the season. ($4.00 donation for adults 12 and up children is a $2.00 donation) Please visit the Events Calendar for the tower climb dates.
The Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse Society welcomes your interest and invites you to visit our Lighthouse on Lake Huron’s shores in Huron County’s Lighthouse Park.
If you are interested in joining the society and help preserve our wonderful lighthouse, please fill out our Membership Application.
(PABLS Revised history - 2018)