Sand Point Lighthouse
The Sand Point Lighthouse was built in 1867, by the National Lighthouse Service, at a cost of $11K. It was a story-and-a-half, rectangular building, standard for the times, with an attached brick tower topped by a cast iron lantern room which housed a fourth order Fresnel lens. The light, a fixed red signal, first showed on the night of May 13, 1868. Ships, first schooners and later steamers and whalebacks, carried iron ore out from the several ore docks, and lumber from sawmills. Even before the railroad reached Escanaba from Green Bay, passengers arrived by boat from the south.
The light warned the ships off Sand Point and the sand reef which reached out into the Bay.
The Sand Point Lighthouse served mariners continuously from 1868 until 1939, except for a short time in 1886 when it was out of commission because of a fire which severely damaged the building. This also cost the life of Mary Terry, one of the first women light keepers on the Great Lakes.
Nine keepers and their families lived in the Sand Point Lighthouse and kept the light burning in its tower and shining out over Little Bay De Noc.
When the US Coast Guard took over all navigational lights in the country from the National Lighthouse Service in 1939, changes came to the Sand Point Lighthouse.
By 1939, the contours of Escanaba Harbor had been changed by dredging and filling, leaving the lighthouse some distance from the hazard for which it had been giving warning. So, upon taking responsibilities for navigational lights that year the Coast Guard constructed a crib light several hundred feet offshore. This crib light is still in use today, and may be seen from the windows of the old Sand Point Lighthouse.
The Coast Guard then established an Aids to Navigation Team in Escanaba, its activities centered in the Lighthouse location.
The building itself, after major alterations, became the family residence for the Officer-in-Charge of the station. The lens and lantern room were removed, and the height of the tower reduced by ten feet. This necessitated the removal of the circular metal stairway and construction of a wooden stair within the square tower. The roof of the main building was raised four feet to permit the construction of three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. Additional windows were cut into the original walls, and door openings and walls changed in the interior of the building. In later years, sheet insulation and aluminum siding were applied over the entire exterior, thus destroying any semblance to a lighthouse.
In 1985 the Coast Guard decided to discontinue the use of the building as a residence and indicated that it might be razed. This aroused the interest of the Delta County Historical Society, since it was known that under the modern facade was the Lighthouse building, one of the oldest and most historic buildings in the area.
A lease form the Coast Guard was negotiated, and research and fundraising began.
A copy of the original 1867 plan of the building, which may be seen in the exhibits room of the restored Light house, existed in the Archives of the Society. This with other information from the National Archives, gave sufficient information to begin to restore the exterior to the original appearance. A duplicate cast iron lantern room from Poverty Island, and a 4th order lens completed the authenticity of the restoration.