The mission of the Friends Of The Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse is to provide financial and physical support for the restoration and ongoing maintenance associated with the lighthouse.
Once preserved, the lighthouse and other historical and maritime features in Kewaunee will become an educational and recreational asset to the community.
Restoration of an Icon
The Friends of the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse are a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a governing board, designed to help facilitate the restoration and public experience of The Kewaunee Lighthouse.
The Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse is a beloved community icon and a reminder of the local maritime history shared by the early settlers, shipper-merchants, and recreational enthusiasts of today. Still serving as an active aid to navigation, the City of Kewaunee received ownership of the lighthouse from the National Park Service in 2011. In 2022, the lighthouse and pier were both added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The City of Kewaunee was awarded a state grant in 2015 for use toward the repair of the harbor seawall and the stabilization of the lighthouse. The main focus was to protect the lighthouse structure from the elements and curtail further damage. The initial stabilization took place in 2017 as a comprehensive exterior restoration. The asphalt roof was replaced with a new metal roof system. Rotted roof sheathing was replaced and a complete ice and water shield synthetic layer was laid. Along with the extensive roof repairs, exterior wood elements were stripped of their paint, repaired or replaced if needed, then primed and painted. Additionally, corrugated metal siding on the tower exterior was replaced with fiber/cement board siding to give the structure a cleaner and more uniform look. Plywood and plexi-glass enclosures on window openings were removed, allowing more light into the interior and new aluminum storm windows were installed to keep the weather out. The existing window units remain in place, protected from further deterioration for a future restoration project.
Although these initial repairs were ultimately for the protection of the structure, they have greatly enhanced the appearance of the lighthouse and are just the beginning in the process of the restoration! The grant from the State of Wisconsin has been an incredible first step in the restoration initiative. Even so, the next phases of the project will require the support and contributions of people both in the community and beyond.
The large door that faces the city was heavy plywood and deteriorating. A set of historically accurate doors were installed in the summer of 2020. To accommodate the anticipated tours, the entry level deck was enlarged and a permanent railing installed in 2021.
The 5th Order Fresnel lens that lit the lighthouse for more than 100 years was decommissioned on June 6, 2019. It was replaced by an LED light that is more efficient than the 200 watt bulbs that lit the lens. Learn more about the lens!
The lens was removed from the tower and moved to the Kewaunee County Historical Society’s History Center. The History Center is located at 217 Ellis St in Kewaunee and is typically open Thursdays and Fridays from 10am – 4pm. Stop in and visit!
Be on the lookout for opportunities to learn more about the restoration progress (including tours!) and what you can do to support our efforts.
For a full history of Kewaunee Light Station – go to our History page!
Additional History Sources (External Links)
City of Kewaunee – Information about the Lighthouse from the City
Lighthouse Friends – A very comprehensive history
UPCOMING MAJOR RESTORATION PROJECT: Foundation Repair
The Kewaunee Pierhead lighthouse is built atop a poured concrete foundation, in which two huge diesel tanks sit, the main level (machinery space) is steel framed, brick lined, and sheathed in riveted steel plates on the exterior. The second level and tower are wood framed. When the lighthouse exterior was renovated in 2017, work was concentrated on the upper levels of the lighthouse, as they were more in need of attention. No work was completed on the foundation or the machinery deck at that time.
The final major task on the exterior of the building is the repair of the foundation. The pier level, where the diesel tanks are, is frequently wet with muddy water, suggesting water infiltration from underneath. The south side of the main level also sees frequent water ingress through the gap between the concrete foundation and the steel sheathing. (headline photo)
We anticipate repairing the lighthouse foundation in 2023 with cooperation from Palpham Welding of Kewaunee and JK Sealants of Denmark. A metal belt will be attached around the entire exterior to seal the gap between the concrete and steel. The concrete foundation will be repaired and patched where necessary, openings on the North side of the foundation will be permanently sealed, and the gap between the lighthouse and the pier will be re-caulked.
Donations are a great way for you to help with these big projects!
OTHER PROJECTS UNDERWAY
The main (machinery) level of the lighthouse has 5 windows on each side of it. Several of these windows have steel plates welded to the exterior of the lighthouse to cover the window. This spring, Palphalm Welding of Kewaunee will remove the steel plates covering the windows.
Barry Nelson has been expertly crafting replacement windows to replace the badly deteriorated windows currently in place. In cases where hardware from the existing windows can’t be salvaged, Barry has fabricated new hardware! The windows will be installed after the plates are removed.
When the lighthouse was mothballed in 1981, the power was disconnected from the entire building, except the single line running up to the light. Jim Schaller and Dan Jerabek are going to be installing new conduit and fixtures throughout the lighthouse. The bulbs will be LED and will come on automatically at night, sending a warm glow across the water.
An alternative to monetary donation is in-kind donations. We’re currently in search of the following items to assist in our restoration/tours.
Coffee Pot (1940s-1950s vintage, non working ok)
Hot Plate (1940s-1950s vintage, non working ok)
If you have an item you’re interested in donating, please email us.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
|Secretary & Newsletter||Denise Anderson|
|Board Member & Historian||Jake Heffernan|