City aims to keep lighthouse project moving

Board recommends hiring architect so work on $1M to $2M restoration can be done next year

PORT WASHINGTON OFFICIALS on Tuesday took the first step in refurbishing the city’s historic lighthouse, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years, as the Board of Public Works recommended hiring a firm to design repairs to the structure. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The City of Port Washington should hire Legacy Architecture to design the needed improvements to its deteriorating lighthouse, the Board of Public Works agreed Tuesday.

The proposal from the firm calls for the improvements to be designed so the city can budget for the work to be done as soon as next year, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

“We want to move forward with this so we can budget for the actual improvements in 2023,” he said.

“This looks like a good project,” Board Chairman Jason Wittek said.

The lighthouse isn’t in as bad a shape as it looks, Vanden Noven said.

“It’s not falling apart but it does need attention to bring it back to its original luster,” he said.

The work likely includes replacing some structural steel as well as the porthole windows, removing the lead paint and repainting the structure,  working on a ventilation system for the interior and making some repairs to the concrete the lighthouse sits on.

“There’s no risk of failure, but it is delaminated and fractured,” Vanden Noven said of the concrete.

Ald. Mike Gasper, a  member of the board, asked if replacing the original lantern house would be part of the work, but Vanden Noven said he didn’t think so.

The lighthouse, long a symbol of the city, is in need of some attention, officials and residents alike have said over the past several years, but funding issues have kept the repairs on the back burner.

But Vanden Noven noted that when the city took ownership of the structure in 2018, it agreed to maintain the lighthouse in good condition.

Legacy Architecture, a Sheboygan firm, conducted a comprehensive report on the condition of the lighthouse in 2017, he noted.

“We’d like to stick to the same architectural firm for this,” Vanden Noven said, noting the company is familiar with the process of repairing historic structures like the lighthouse and helped the city when it sought to get the structure listed on the state Register of Historic Places.

A Coastal  Management grant will pay for as much as 50% of the $55,375 cost for the study, he said.

Repairs to the lighthouse are estimated to cost between $1 million and $2 million.

  The Common Council will consider the contract with Legacy when it meets on Tuesday, July 5.

The lighthouse, which was built in 1935 for $38,000, consists of a metal Art Deco tower that rests on a 20-foot-square cement base that has large arches on each of its faces.

Since it was built, the lighthouse has been a symbol of Port Washington, used on everything from the city’s logo to postcards.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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