Kewaunee lighthouse fundraiser underway

Kewaunee Harbor Pierhead Light, December 15, 2016 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

KEWAUNEE (WLUK) -- A fundraising campaign is underway to help save a piece of nautical history along the Lakeshore.

We're talking about the Kewaunee Harbor Pierhead Lighthouse.

But community leaders say some fine-tuning needs to be done to make the improvements complete.

For the past 85 years, the light atop a steel box building at the end of a long pier has guided ships through some of the toughest weather conditions Lake Michigan has to offer.

But from shingles missing, to cracked paint, The Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse is showing its age.

"That's kind of our history, is the lighthouse. It evolved into a real centerpiece of our community," said Robin Nelson, Kewaunee Lighthouse Committee Chair

The lighthouse is listed on the Wisconsin Historical Register. A fundraising campaign is underway to raise $30,000 to restore 30 lighthouse windows.

"We just can't go and slap vinyl siding on everything. Things have to be done correctly," said Jayne Conard, Friends of the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse.

The funds are needed in addition to state money earmarked to cover non-historic repairs, like the outside walls and roof.

The lighthouse is not the only initiative. The $4.2 million Kewaunee Harbor Restoration Project is expected to give a new look to about 3 1/2 acres of city land nearby.

"It will be very different to what you see there today," said Matt Murphy, Kewaunee Public Works Department Director.

A new sea wall will protect the harbor, and a lighted boardwalk will extend from downtown, to the lighthouse.

"It will really bring a boost to the city. Boat traffic, harbor traffic, connecting everything with what we already have," said Murphy.

Community leaders say the City of Kewaunee and the lighthouse at the end of the pier go hand in hand.

"That's it. People come down the hill. They don't know anything about Kewaunee, but they look out, and they go ooh, look at the lighthouse," said Conard.

Construction on this first phase of the lighthouse is expected to begin in the Spring, and be finished some time in the Summer.

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