Sand Point Lighthouse celebrates 150th

Jordan Beck | Daily Press From left, Joe Hellberg, Bill Rinne, Thomas Claycomb, and Craig Woerpel perform “Lighthouse Fanfare” at the top of the Sand Point Lighthouse tower during a special event held in honor of the lighthouse’s 150th anniversary Monday. Rinne composed this piece for the event.

ESCANABA — The 150th anniversary of the Sand Point Lighthouse was celebrated with an event at the lighthouse Monday afternoon. About 125 people were present at this event.

The celebration was organized by the Delta County Historical Society’s lighthouse committee. Delta County Historical Society Vice President Elizabeth Keller, who is a co-chair of this committee, said her goal was to do something special to commemorate the lighthouse’s anniversary.

“150 is a pretty good age, even for a building,” she said.

During the event, Delta County Historical Society President Charles Lindquist gave a speech on the history of the Sand Point Lighthouse. He spoke about each of the people who served as lighthouse keepers there from its establishment in 1867 to its closure in 1939.

“I was thinking … ‘I want to celebrate what this building was for,'” Lindquist said.

After it was closed, the lighthouse served as a residence for the Officer-in-Charge of an Aids to Navigation Team established by the U.S. Coast Guard in Escanaba.

“They needed a presence here,” Lindquist said.

The lighthouse was heavily remodeled at this time to better fit its new role. Among other changes, its lantern room was removed and its tower was lowered 10 feet.

“It didn’t look … anything like a lighthouse,” Lindquist said.

In 1985, it was determined that the Coast Guard no longer needed to use this building as a residence. To save the lighthouse from potential destruction, the Delta County Historical Society decided to step in and restore it to its former appearance.

Lindquist said that the city and county governments, labor unions, other organizations, and individuals all helped with the process of restoring the lighthouse.

“By 1990, the job was done and we opened it up to the public,” he said.

Escanaba Mayor Marc Tall also shared some remarks during the celebration.

“We’re all very proud to have it as a part of the community (and) as a part of Ludington Park,” he said.

The event kicked off with a performance of “Lighthouse Fanfare,” a piece composed by Bill Rinne.

“That was specially written for this event,” Keller said.

Additionally, admission to the lighthouse and the Delta County Historical Museum was free Monday. Refreshments were served, as well.

One of the anniversary celebration’s attendees, Escanaba resident Tom Ammel, was related to two of the lighthouse’s keepers. Elias Garrett, the lighthouse’s second-to-last keeper, was his great-grandfather; its final keeper, Daniel Garrett, was his grandfather.

Ammel said he was glad to be present at the lighthouse for this milestone.

“It makes me feel proud of what the historical society has done to keep it and save it,” he said.

Pelham, N.H. resident Karen Blake, who grew up in Gladstone and was visiting the area for her 60th high school reunion, said she enjoyed learning more about the lighthouse’s history at this event.

“It was very worthwhile to come,” she said.

Tall voiced his appreciation to the Delta County Historical Society for their work in planning this event and maintaining the lighthouse.

“This is a wonderful day for the city of Escanaba,” he said.