PRESQUE ISLE, MICH.— A new partnership between the Presque Isle Township Museum Society, the Presque Isle Township and the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) was announced today at the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse (1840). The partners gathered to announce the establishment of the Presque Isle Township Lighthouses Restoration Fund with CFNEM as a first step to launching a capital campaign to raise $250,000 for the initial phase of the restoration—stabilizing the tower structure.
The highly popular tourist destination is in dire need of restoration and will be boarded up for the winter during the first week of November to prevent further damage due to the poor condition of the windows. The 1840 Lighthouse is particularly well known having been frequently featured in national magazines, books, and news stories this time of year due to persistent local and visitor accounts that it is haunted.
Karen Pettalia, a Presque Isle Township resident and wife of former longtime Presque Isle Township Supervisor and State Representative Peter Pettalia, presented an initial check for $15,000 to Patrick Heraghty, CFNEM Executive Director. Nearly $12,000 of that amount was donated to the township’s Peter Pettalia Lighthouse Memorial Fund that was established when he was tragically killed in a traffic accident in Sept. 2016.
The Museum Society contributed the balance of the amount as part of the new partnership and will continue to spearhead raising additional funds needed to complete the Old Lighthouse’s restoration. Future phases of the fundraising campaign will be targeted at making the Old Lighthouse grounds and other structures more accessible to people of all abilities including adding accessible restroom facilities on the grounds.
“Presque Isle Township is fortunate to have such a rich history with some of the oldest maritime structures on the Great Lakes and in Presque Isle County,” said Township Supervisor Larry Fields. “However, with only 1,600 households in the township, maintaining two of these historical treasures located within a miles of each other requires a regional effort by all those who take pride in sharing the lighthouses with their family and friends, and benefit from the thousands of tourists and school groups who visit the lighthouses every year,” Fields added.
“The Presque Isle Township Museum Society, which was originally formed in 1998 and was responsible for restoring the beautiful 1905 Keeper’s House of the New Presque Isle Lighthouse (1870) just a mile down East Grand Lake Road, realizes restoring the Old Lighthouse is a significant undertaking,” said Museum Society President Katie Wolf.
“We are putting a call out to everyone who recognizes how important this treasure is to our regional history and tourism to come forth and contribute through contributions to the Presque Isle Township Lighthouses Restoration Fund at the Community Foundation. We encourage you to share your ideas for raising funds, and roll up your sleeves to help us reach out to businesses, foundations, civic organizations and associations, and government agencies that can help us,” added Wolf.
Karen Pettalia emphasized how important the lighthouses and rich history of Presque Isle is to her family and her late husband. “Pete tirelessly dedicated his energy and leadership to northeast Michigan and Presque Isle Township. He knew firsthand how much it took to keep these magnificent lighthouses as proud beacons of our community and the Great Lakes.” Pettalia said. “In his memory, I hope people will continue to help take care of our lighthouses both through their generosity and by volunteering their time.”
Contributions to help restore the Old Presque Isle Township Lighthouse can be made online at cfnem.org or by mailing or dropping off contributions to the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan at 100 North Ripley St., Alpena, MI 49707, or mailing contributions to Presque Isle Township Museum Society, PO Box 208, Presque Isle, MI 49777. Donations can also be dropped off at the Presque Isle Township Office on 12653 East Grand Lake Road.