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 501(c)(3) 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 fund-raising efforts, available grants and the support and help of the Road Commission, a new cedar shake roof was installed, the exteriors of both structures were 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 repaired the original 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 sidewalk circle around the front of the Lighthouse.
In 2008, the Society petitioned the United States Coast Guard to return the original 3rd order Fresnel lens to its home in the Museum. This magnificent lens 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 Station buildings that were positioned 300 yards south of the lighthouse. This Station, the first on the Great Lakes, was active from 1876 until 1937. The buildings were transferred to the Huron County Road Commission, and on November 1, 2017 the buildings were moved back to Lighthouse Park and secured on new foundations. Restoration efforts have begun.
Over the years, the Society has also been active in acquiring historical artifacts for display in the Museum focusing on the lighthouse, the nearby life-saving station, Huron County and nautical history.
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. Our Heritage Festival is the first Saturday in August with food, tower climbing, music, and vendors.
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; $2.00 donation for children). 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 helping preserve our lighthouse, please fill out our Membership Application that can be downloaded below.
(PABLS History--Updated 2021)
Donations are our main source of help. All contributions go directly to maintaining the lighthouse, museum, and the life saving station. Any amount helps. Thank you for your contribution!