City to make its pitch for lighthouse designation

Application for landmark to be placed on state register will be presented next month
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington officials will make their case for the city’s breakwater and lighthouse to be listed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places next month.

Tim Heggland, a preservation consultant hired by the city to shepherd the nomination through the process, will present the city’s application to the State Historic Preservation Review Board on Aug. 17.

“I think the chances are excellent (it will be accepted),” Heggland said, noting that nominations are thoroughly vetted before getting to this point.

Port’s lighthouse is not unique, Heggland said, noting there are nine others built with the same basic design. But it is a handsome, Art Deco structure with a steel construction  that is accessible and notable.

“As a piece of engineering, it represents a moment in time on the Great Lakes,” he said. “The portholes and steel construction represent something quite modern.”

Port’s lighthouse and breakwater were built as a Works Progress Administration project in the early 1930s, about the time the We Energies power plant was constructed.

“The harbor had always been somewhat problematic,” Heggland said. “They realized that with these large ships bringing in loads of coal for the power plant, they need to improve the harbor.”

To do that, the government constructed the breakwater and “as long as they were doing that, they took the opportunity to update the lighthouse,” he said.

Kathie Gordon, a member of the city’s lighthouse committee, said the lighthouse’s landmark status in the city is another reason for its nomination.

“It’s been our iconic logo for all these years — it’s only fitting,” she said. “People always want to go out to the lighthouse when they visit Port.”

A couple weeks ago, she said, a couple said their wedding vows under the arch of the lighthouse at sunrise.

If the review board accepts the nomination on Aug. 17, the lighthouse and breakwater will be automatically accepted to the state register, Heggland said.

It will also be forwarded to the U.S. Department of the Interior for consideration on the National Register, Heggland said, adding that nomination must be acted on within 90 days.

The City of Port Washington, which was given ownership of the lighthouse by the federal government this year, has been working to raise thousands of dollars to restore the structure.

Heggland said that inclusion on the National Register won’t necessarily open the door to federal funding of the restoration efforts. However, he noted, the designation can be helpful when the city seeks grants and other funding sources.

Inclusion on the registry is perhaps more important because it will draw tourists to the community, Heggland said.

Gordon said she hopes that listing on the state and national registers will bring more awareness to the restoration efforts.

“I hope it will bring more respect for our lighthouse,” she said. “Just think of the history. I would hate to see it damaged or in disrepair.

“I hope some people will realize it’s going to take some bucks to restore it.”

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Ozaukee Press

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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