Two Lighthouses Win Makeovers
By Jimmy Scarano | From Preservation | June 4, 2007
Two 19th-century lighthouses are getting new windows and doors after winning a nationwide contest.
Last year Oregon-based window-and-door manufacturer JELD WEN held a contest in search of lighthouses in need of some sprucing up and in April of this year announced two winners, Thomas Point Shoal and Wind Point.
Thomas Point Shoal, a National Historic Landmark built in 1875 near Annapolis, Md., is the last intact screw-pile lighthouse at its original location on the Chesapeake Bay. The National Register-listed Wind Point Lighthouse, built in 1880 near Racine, Wisc., was built by acclaimed architect Orlando Poe.
Workers put in new doors and windows at Thomas Point Shoal earlier this month, but were unable to complete the installation due to bad weather. The rest of the installation is expected to be finished in July.
"Because we are in the middle of the water, everything has to be done by boat, and we couldn't send them out," says Henry Gonzalez, manager of Thomas Point Shoal and vice president of the United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS), which is responsible for maintaining the structure.
Wind Point, which overlooks Lake Michigan, is in the midst of a $140,000 restoration project that will delay the installation of the windows and doors until late summer or fall.
"It's mostly stripping and painting the exterior, but its well worth keeping in good shape," says John Schmit, the deputy clerk at Wind Point. "It's the symbol of the entire Racine community."
Thomas Point Shoal, also a landmark in its Maryland community, is undergoing its own restoration, a five-year, $300,000 project centered on revamping the screw-pile steel and iron foundation.
Right now, Thomas Point Shoal's deteriorated doors and boarded-up windows and Wind Point's heavy steel replacement doors don't resemble the 1800s at all.
When the restorations are finished, both of the lighthouses are supposed to call to mind the original structures. The new windows and doors won't detract from the historic look of the lighthouses, as they have been designed to "look" old.
"We want to complement the architectural style of the lighthouses and protect them at the same time," says Lynne Butterworth, the project manager for JELD-WEN. "The fiberglass doors look just like wood, and they are much more durable."
For more photos, stories, and tips, subscribe to the print edition of Preservation magazine.