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'Looking to finish the job' | Grand Haven to repair lighthouses, complete work on south pier

The Lighthouse Conservancy needs to raise around $100,000 to finish repairs on two lighthouses.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Months after the City of Grand Haven celebrated the completion of its iconic catwalk renovation, officials are raising money for more repairs on the south pier. 

"When you walk out here, it's beautiful on the outside," said Dave Karpin of the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy. "The catwalk bents have all been renewed, the lighthouses are a bright red color, but there's still one more step." 

The two lighthouses lining the city's south pier have been vacant for years, automatically operated to light the way for incoming ships. Officials removed lead paint from the structures in 2011, but the interiors have deteriorated, Karpin said.

"As any building sits empty, paint starts peeling off the walls, the wood starts deteriorating, the windows are broken out – everything was just patched up by the Coast Guard over the years," he said. 

The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy is currently fundraising for its "INSIDE OUT" campaign to renovate the interior of the buildings and create a Lighthouse History Center. 

"We're going to have displays and volunteers out here to talk about the history of the lighthouse and educate the public," Karpin said. "We're going to have schoolchildren here for trips and do like all the other lighthouses in Michigan and the U.S. are doing."

The overall cost of the renovations is around $1 million. The Lighthouse Conservancy has already raised a good chunk with help from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. 

"We've applied for a couple grants this year to do some of the work," Karpin said. "We need about $100,000 total."

There is a fundraiser for the lighthouse renovations Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. A 96-year-old catwalk bent will be auctioned off that afternoon. 

"The citizens of Grand Haven stepped up to the plate [investing] a lot of money in this pier," Karpin said. "Now we're looking for a little more to just finish the job and get it open to the public, so the funds we raise with the gift shop will sustain the maintenance." 


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