- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

PORT SANILAC, Mich. (AP) - The Port Sanilac Lighthouse will now be open for public tours after a private owner spent the past two years rehabilitating the property.

Jeff Shook, lighthouse owner and Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy president, purchased the lighthouse in late 2015 and privately funded the restoration. The home attached to the lighthouse is used by Shook’s family as a summer home, but the lighthouse tower will be open to the public on Fridays for tours.

The Sanilac County Historic Village and Museum staff will assist in coordinating and hosting the tours. The staff will answer questions and provide the tour guides.

“We opened last Friday and will be running tours through Labor Day,” said Leigh Marciniak, Sanilac County museum administrator.

The lighthouse was built and first lighted in 1886 by lighthouse keeper Richard Morris, Shook told The Times Herald (https://bwne.ws/2tE158h ). The white horizontal light that was fueled by kerosene could be seen up to 15 statute miles away. The light was eventually electrified in 1924. The lighthouse tower has 50 steps up to the top and then visitors have to climb up a ladder for the remainder of the way.

William Holmes took over the lightkeeper position in 1893, and passed away in 1926. At that time, his wife, Grace, took over the position.

“Basically a lot of women got the opportunity at certain light stations to take over for their husbands if they were sick or died because they knew from being there all those years how to tend to the light,” Shook said.

But once the light was automated in 1927, that eliminated the need for a lightkeeper and Grace was out of a job. Following that change, the house portion of the light station was sold in 1928 to a private owner, Carl Rosenfield. After he passed away, Rosenfield’s family took over the ownership. Fast-forward to December 2014 and Shook, from Fenton, purchased the historic home and lighthouse tower for $855,000.

Since the Shook family purchased the property, they have invested a large sum of money and time to restore the piece of history.

Shook said there was lead paint throughout the whole home and lighthouse tower. All of the lead was abated and a fresh coat was painted on. New windows were custom made for the house, the porch had to be restored and bricks had to be replaced. Shook said it was a fairly expensive restoration.

Shook owns two lighthouses in Muskegon.

“I have always been interested in the nautical side of things, like lighthouses, since high school,” he said. “Then I found out that my relatives were lighthouse keepers and builders, so there’s something in my blood throughout my family history.”

Shook’s great-great-great-great-great grandparents were the first lighthouse keepers at the Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse, north of Point Hope.

Shook is hoping to be able to pass the lighthouse love on to others as well as attract other lighthouse fanatics to the area.


Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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