FISH CREEK – A report commissioned by the Door County Historical Society will set the stage for a plan to restore the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse Museum at Peninsula State Park to a more historically correct look and condition.
The society expects to have the Historic Structure Report from Preserve LLC, a Whitefish Bay-based design contractor and historic preservation consultant, in hand by the end of October. It will provide direction to further restore the keeper’s house to what it was like when Capt. William Duclon manned the light from 1883 to 1918.
The report also will include a plan for long-term maintenance of the house, the tower and other buildings on the site, Historical Society Executive Director Bailey Koepsel said.
Eagle Bluff was active from 1868 to 1926. The society took over care of the site from the state in 1961 and opened the museum, which offers guided tours of the buildings during summers, two years later.
The Eagle Bluff Light Station Museum, operated by the Door County Historical Society in Peninsula State Park, will be the subject of a Historic Structure Report to determine a plan to restore the keeper’s house and for long-term maintenance. (Photo: Courtesy Door County Visitors Bureau)
“When we took over care of the lighthouse, some changes were made to have better flow for tours,” Koepsel said. “Some modifications were made inside to accommodate that. We’re looking at going back and restoring it to the way it was when the Duclon family lived there … Deterioration starts as soon as the restoration is finished, so it’s important to have that long-range maintenance plan.”
While the restoration is expected to remove at least some of the changes made to accommodate tourists, Koepsel said the project will continue to provide accessibility for them.
Historic Structure Reports are designed to maintain or minimize loss of special features of a historic property by researching its original construction, historical context and modifications over the years, as well as documenting its current shape and planning for future projects. The Eagle Bluff report will “… document the existing keeper’s dwelling, light tower, Fresnel lens (which focuses the lamplight into a single powerful beam), oil house
and privy,” according to a Door County Historical Society press release . “It will also include future reconstruction plans for the barn and summer kitchen, as well as identification of cultural landscape features.”
The report is receiving funds from a 50 percent matching grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation, which “assists the development of historic sites for nonprofit organizations in small towns and cities in the eight states of the Midwest,” according to its website. For every dollar contributed, the Janesville-based foundation will match donations dollar for dollar.
The Cana Island Lighthouse restoration project in Baileys Harbor received funding from a Jeffris matching grant. Other funded projects include President Warren G. Harding’s home in Newark, Ohio; an Ohio bank designed by famed American modernist architect Louis Sullivan; and the Al. Ringling Theater in Baraboo. The foundation requires a Historic Structure Report for capital improvement grants.
Preserve also was involved with the Cana Island project, conducting research and preparing its Historic Structure Report, along with projects in the Milwaukee area. Along with the team Preserve assembled that will study everything from Eagle Bluff’s decor to its Fresnel lens, it also will provide guided educational work to graduate-level students from the Historic Preservation Institute of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Koepsel said there isn’t yet a timeline for the restoration work.
“The restoration will take a long time,” she said. “I’m sure it’s something that will have to be done in phases. But, that’s something the (Historic Structure Report) will tell us.”
For contributions to, or more information on the Eagle Bluff Light Station restoration project, call 920-421-2332 or email [email protected].
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