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Fort Gratiot Light

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Postby LighthouseNews » Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:31 pm


Buried in a story entitled, City votes to work with Brown, at the Times Herald was this Council balks at Fort Gratiot light project.
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Postby Grover1 » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:46 pm


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Postby epona » Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:16 pm


If you go to the end of both newspaper articles read the comments. Some of the people writing are concerned about the money it is going to cost to restore Fort Gratiot Light and the other building on the same property. I admit that I would be concerned as well. If this means that money has to be taken from basic human services I would be questioning any outlay of monies.

Now, here in the City of Biddeford, I have been in favor of restoring the Clock Tower at City Hall. Right now work is being done on it. It is not a 100 percent fix but a patch up job. I get at a bird's eye view of what is being done. In this case the money was already in hand and came out of a fund for building repair. The Clock Tower had to be fixed because water was leaking into the Town Offices below it.

The question is how do tax payers want their monies allocated. Here in Maine the cost of food has gone up and I am noticing that gas prices once again are on the rise. It comes down to want vs need. The same is true in the world of restoring lighthouses. We may want to fix them up but cities and towns should not be asked to provide the monies to do so.
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Postby Gary Martin » Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:06 pm


Carole, cities and towns can't have their cake and eat it too. If they want to apply to take ownership of lighthouses then they also have to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining them.
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Postby epona » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:29 am


I agree that cities and towns should not take on the ownership of lighthouses and the like.

It seems to me that it coses more to have ownership than what is gotten back in terms of money. What is funny is that then these groups go running or begging for money from the United States Government to mantain these lighthouses. In my opinion if you cannot afford it today, wait until you can. If a city or town takes on a lighthouse or park you better have lines in budget for to be spent on it.

Again, it comes down to we may want something but can we afford it. Is it worth the cost and what will have to be cut, sold., given up if I buy this. This is true for individuals and governments.

Something else to think about the Coast Guard is casting off lighthouses to save money. The flip side is that then the groups who take over the lighthouses ask and keep asking for handouts. I mean money, money to restore and maintain the cast off lighthouses. Think about it.
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Postby Grover1 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:36 am


A man of the people writes ... from The Times Herald

Chris from Port Huron: "This is in response to Sunday's column by Dennis Zembala, president of the Port Huron Museum. I believe the lighthouse should be restored, with only one outbuilding kept -- the largest one. All the rest should be razed and the parking structure put in that way. That way, it keeps the overhead down. We have too many museum artifacts costing the taxpayers too much money. I think everything should be kept to a minimum."
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Postby NoahG » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:20 am


All I will say, is that if owner
ship is passed on, and not even basic money spent to prop up the crumbling lighthouse...

We will live to regret this day.

And when that day comes, everyone who said "not a penny should be spent" will cry and whine and complain about why "no one did aything".


Oh, I also have a picture of the spot where that brick fell from, if anyone needs to see it.
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Postby NoahG » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:28 am


Pretty, isn't it?
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Postby epona » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:40 pm


I still would vote for not spending tax payers money on this and projects like it. I will take this stand if a vote like this one came up in Maine. If this lighthouse can be bought and maintained with 100 percent private monies great.

Again, government needs to spend less not more.
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Postby island » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:18 pm


Photo above looks like they may have used the wrong kind of paint on that brick to the detriment of the brick.

With respect to town ownership all to often said owners fail to maintain the town owned functional buildings and schools. One might expect historic structures such as a lighthouse would suffer accordingly and end up on the bottom of the priority list.
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Postby rocky5128 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:57 am


You should never paint brick. I'm sorry, that is the old Local 21 bricklayer in me. I did a lot of rehabbing buildings,(it is Quality, not Quantity work). The majority of time we worked on old brickwork that was painted over and over and over. Any moisture that gets into the bricks through cracks in the mortar or in the brick cannot escape and after a while you can get the brick spalling or you can get the salt peter on the bricks.

Unpainted brick looks much nicer than painted ones, IMHo. That is why I love old brick buildings. If they get real dirty you should clean and tuckpoint them. I did my sisters house and it was a dity brown looking. When I cleaned the brick, it was a nice orange shade that I pointed with a snow white morter. It looked brand new. I got 8 houses on her block from that job.

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:49 pm


That is exactly the reason whitewash was originally used on these brick towers. The USLHS whitewash formula called for a mixture of potash, molasses, water and lime. While it imparted a white coloration which made the structure more readily visible, it "breathed," allowing moisture to penetrate easily. The downside was that it washed off quickly, and required the tower be re-whitewashed on an annual basis. However, with lighthouse keeping consisting of short periods of hard work interspersed with long periods mind-numbing boredom, the keepers had plenty of time to add a coat every year.
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Postby island » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:20 am


Whitewashing and brass polishing. At Whitehead the tower was to remain unpainted natural granite. So instead during the LHS years the keepers were to whitewash just about everyting else that was not wood including the considerable amount of exposed granite ledge in front of the dwelling and the foundation stones of the 100 foot long rainshed. The oil house was to remain natural brick as was the tower service room entrance building and the brick whistle house. All that whitewash made this light station easy to identify from several miles offshore thus greatly improved its daymark function as a navigation aid.

When my grandfather was head keeper at Whitehead the keeper of nearby Marshal Point wrote letters complaining that the tower at Whitehead should be whitewashed. He had to whitewash his tower and he was the only keeper without assistant. It was not right and not fair even with three keepers they did not have to whitewash the Whitehead tower.

During the Coast Guard years that which contained fuel was to be painted bright yellow. In fact anything that did not move was painted. The crew at Whitehead decided to paint the tower entrance building yellow even though there was no fuel stored within. I happened by when they had commenced this work.They were even planning to paint the brick whistle house and the three large fuel tanks yellow but needed much to acquire much more yellow paint. To make a long story short they spent a bit of time thereafter removing the yellow paint. In later years a CG contracted paint crew, for want of something else to do, painted the brick oil house white. With red now showing through this white it now is light pink.

Another Coast Guard stunt was to make brasswork "disappear" with paint. At one lifeboat station they even had painted the bronze Lyle gun and the brass cases on the station wall clocks. And once beautiful varnished woodwork likewise was made to dissappear under layer upon layer of government paint.
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Postby LighthouseNews » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:34 pm


epona wrote:I still would vote for not spending tax payers money on this and projects like it. I will take this stand if a vote like this one came up in Maine. If this lighthouse can be bought and maintained with 100 percent private monies great.

Again, government needs to spend less not more.


The city of Port Huron is completely missing the solution here. Although they're listed as the (potential when everything is cleared) owners, what is to stop them from letting a non-profit group be formed, and hand over management (and fund raising) to the group? It can certainly be an offshoot of the Museum, but this way no taxpayer money is used. It's been done many times with other municipal owners, and can still succeed even in these bad Michigan economic times.

If I were still living in Michigan, you can bet I'd be joining a non-profit to care for the light.
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Postby epona » Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:29 pm


Sue, you get my point on the topic of this lighthouse.

It is also good to read what it was like for people who lived and worked at a lighthouse before automation. I so enjoy and learn so much from what Island posts on about this.
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