Door County lighthouse renovation update

The Cana Island Light Station renovation project begins this spring.
The Cana Island Light Station renovation project begins this spring.

BAILEYS HARBOR – Fundraising efforts are in the home stretch for a seven year restoration project for a Door County landmark.

The Cana Island Light Station needs some work.

An update on the project includes a rare winter look from the top of the lighthouse tower.

It’s 97 steps to the top of the Cana Island Lighthouse tower near Baileys Harbor.

“It’s a chance to step back and step back 145 years, in 1869,” said Dwight Zeller, Cana Island Light Station site manager.

Zeller knows them all.

“Cana has been described as a sanctuary, it’s been described as a respite, it’s been described in any number of ways,” said Zeller.

But the Door County landmark needs some work.

“Obviously if you look at the tower, it needs a paint job,” said Zeller.

The tower, and four other buildings are the latest part of a multi-phased renovation project totaling $2.6 million. Door County owns the park. The Door County Maritime Museum manages it.

“We’ve got most of the money we need, so it’s time to get rolling here. So we’ve selected a contractor, an architect and engineering firm to start putting together the plans, and specs,” said Bob Desh, Door County Maritime Museum executive director.

Project leaders needed to decide how the lighthouse would look after it is restored. They chose an era roughly from 1914 to 1939.

“This is the period when it was sort of in its peak. After that, things got added that in our opinion, sort of distracted from that,” said Desh.

The lighthouse will stay open as much as possible during the renovation.

“It’s kind of neat to peel the onion back a little bit, and then put it all back the way it was,” said Desh.

The “way it was” can be contemplated from the top of the tower.

“It’s going to be more than just a facelift. It’s a chance for us at the Door County Maritime Museum, to bring Cana back. It is far more than its history. It’s a chance perhaps to experience life as it was in the Baileys Harbor area, 100 plus years ago,” said Zeller.

Restoration is scheduled to begin this spring, with much of the work completed this summer.

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