The Beaver Island Light Station, photo submitted c. 1978
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Beaver Island Light Station
South end of Beaver Island (East Side Drive, south tip of Beaver Island) Sec. 20, T37N, R10W, St. James - Charlevoix County
Other Names Beaver Head Lighthouse and Signal Station
Property Type lighthouse
Historic Use DEFENSE/coast guard facility
TRANSPORTATION
Current Use TRANSPORTATION
Style Other
Architect/Builder John McReynolds
Narrative Description Beaver Island Light Station is situated on the southern shore of Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan, between Nicksauls Point and Appleby's Point. The lighthouse tower is a yellow brick cylinder. A ten-sided steel and glass room caps the tower. Originally, there was a keeper's dwelling connected to the tower. The original dwelling has been replaced by a rectangular, two-story brick structure with a gable roof and overhanging eaves. The interior of the dwelling was designed as three separate apartments for the keeper, the first assistant, and the second assistant. In addition to the main structure, four support buildings are located on the site. There is a one-story framed garage, a red brick storage shed, a one-story maintenance building, and a red brick fog signal house.
Statement of Significance The Beaver Island Light Station has a fascinating history and is significant as probably the third oldest extant lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It was built in 1851 by John McReynolds, a Detroit contractor at a cost of approximately $5,000. One year later the station's first keeper, Henry Van Allen, led a violent opposition against Mormon settlement on the island. The purpose of the lighthouse was to mark a dangerous set of shoals and to act as a beacon to ships navigating on Lake Michigan. It was reported that the Fresnel lens used in the tower was the second oldest in the United States. The U.S. Lighthouse Service operated the lighthouse until 1938 when the U.S. Coast Guard assumed operation. In 1962 the lighthouse was decommissioned and replaced by an automated radio beacon tower. After decommissioning, the Charlevoix Public School District secured the title to the Beaver Island Light Station. Currently, the light station enjoys a new function as an outdoor and environmental education center for local schoolchildren.
Period of Significance 1851-1962
Significant Date(s) 1851
Registry Type(s) 12/29/1978 National Register listed
04/05/1974 State Register listed
Site ID# P22823