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Restoration campaign needs $300K for iconic South Haven lighthouse

Posted at 10:33 PM, Feb 23, 2015

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- It's an iconic landmark along the lakeshore, but the nearly 40-foot red South Haven lighthouse that has jutted out into Lake Michigan since 1903 is in need of some big repairs.

The Historical Association of South Haven says the popular tourist destination will need roughly $300,000 in repairs and restoration. The group, which took ownership of the lighthouse back in 2012, is launching a campaign to raise the needed funds.

Courtesy: The Historical Assoc. of South Haven

Courtesy: The Historical Assoc. of South Haven

The main areas of concern for preservationists are widespread areas of corrosion at the seams and near the windows and base of the 112-year-old structure. While the exterior still appears to be in good shape, the interior will require the bulk of the work.

“Interior wise, it’s had very little maintenance done over the period of time," said Ed Appleyard, treasurer for the South Haven Historical Association.

“The outside has been pretty well protected by multiple coats of paint over the years. It’s what you don’t see on the inside that’s the major problem.”

Courtesy: The Historical Assoc. of South Haven

Courtesy: The Historical Assoc. of South Haven

Appleyard said the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint in the structure will require professional crews and cause greater expense.

Currently, the city pays about $5,000 annually for maintenance of the structure, and the association has already received about $50,000 in pledges to go toward the restoration project, Appleyard said.

For a lighthouse that has served as a destination and beacon for generations, Appleyard is confident the community will come together to raise the necessary funds, he hopes by this summer.

“I grew up here, I remember it all the way back when I was a kid and we took swimming lessons off the pier," he said.

"It’s like it’s just been there forever."

The Historical Association is planning a campaign event for the public on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 5:30 p.m. The event will be held at the historical association museum at 355 Hubbard Street, South Haven.

Those interested in donating can do so through the GoFundMe account here.