WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that he recently signed official papers that will transfer Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light in Michigan to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission.
Dubbed “Big Red,” the fire-engine-colored lighthouse is a well known sight where Black Lake (Macatawa Lake) empties into Lake Michigan. In fact, its twin-gabled roof, reflecting the Dutch influence in the city of Holland, Mich., makes it as much of an icon as the city’s windmills and tulips.
With today's announcement, Holland Harbor will become the 36th lighthouse the department and its National Park Service have protected by recommending it for transfer from the U.S. Coast Guard to other agencies and nonprofits under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
The Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission has cared for the lighthouse since the Coast Guard announced plans to abandon it in the 1970s.
“The Department of the Interior commends the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission for its three decades of stewardship for this lighthouse,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “Partnerships like this one are protecting lighthouses from coast to coast. They are the best way to preserve our history and build our future.”
This lighthouse joins a colorful group of lighthouses on the West and East coasts and in the Great Lakes region—ranging from Sentinel Light in Alaska to St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida to Sturgeon Point Light in Michigan. In fact, 12 of the 36 lighthouses are in Michigan. (See the list at end of this release.)
The Holland Harbor Light, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has played an integral part in the city’s history. When seeking a location for settlement in 1847, the Reverend A. C. Van Raalte and his Dutch emigrant followers were attracted by the potential of Black Lake as a harbor. The first lighthouse built at this location was a wooden structure constructed in 1872. The present structure was erected in 1907 and “Big Red” was automated in 1932. When the Coast Guard recommended that it be closed, citizens organized the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission to preserve and restore the historic landmark. The commission has been operating it under a Coast Guard lease.
Like other lighthouses around the country, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse was no longer wanted by the Coast Guard after the fading of commercial boat traffic and automation. A number of other lighthouses, not as well known as Big Red, were headed for abandonment or surplus.
In 2000, however, enactment of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act provided a new way to protect such lighthouses by enabling the Department of the Interior to recommend the transfer of historic lighthouses (at no cost) to federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations and community development organizations.
The law places preservation of the historic light station first. In cooperation with the Coast Guard and the General Services Administration, the department and its National Park Service are working to find the best stewards for long-term preservation of lighthouses.
Nearly 300 lighthouses nationwide have been identified as eligible for transfer under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, so the Secretary will be considering applications for new ownership of other lighthouses in the future.
For more information about the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act and these lighthouses, application deadlines, eligibility and other information, go to http://www.cr.nps.gov/maritime/nhlpa/nhlpa.htm or email NPS_MaritimeHeritage@nps.gov.
The Department of the Interior has recommended the lighthouses on the accompanying list for transfer since 2002; some have already been transferred and others are still in process.
Sentinel Island Light - to Gastineau Channel Historical Society
Pigeon Point Light - to the California Department of Parks and Recreation
Point Sur Light - to the California Department of Parks and Recreation
New London Harbor Light – to the New London Maritime Society
Harbor of Refuge Breakwater Light - to the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation
St. Augustine Lighthouse - to the St. Augustine Light and Museum
St. Simons Island Light - to the Coastal Georgia Historical Society
Tybee Island Lighthouse - to the Tybee Historical Society
Molokai Light - to Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station - to the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council
Little River Light Station - to the American Lighthouse Foundation
Petit Manan Light - to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Craighill Channel Lower Range Light - to Historical Place Preservation, Inc.
Thomas Point Shoal Light - to the City of Annapolis, Maryland
Turkey Point Light Station - to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Elk Neck State Park
Bakers Island Light - to the Essex National Heritage Commission
Charlevoix South Pierhead Light - to the City of Charlevoix, Michigan
Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse - to the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers
Detour Reef Light - to the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society
Fort Gratiot Light Station - to the City of Port Huron, Michigan
Gull Rock Light - to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy
Harbor Beach Lighthouse - to the City of Harbor Beach, Michigan
Holland Harbor Lighthouse – to the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission
Ludington North Breakwater Light - to the City of Ludington, Michigan
Manitou Island Light - to the Keweenaw Land Trust
Munising Station Front and Rear Range Lights - to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
St. James (Beaver Harbor) Light - to St. James Township
Sturgeon Point Light – to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Alcona Historical Society
Esopus Meadows Lighthouse - to Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, Inc.
Rondout Creek Light - to the City of Kingston, New York
Currituck Beach Light Tower - to Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc.
Ashtabula Harbor Light - to the Ashtabula Lighthouse Restoration and Preservation Society
Toledo Harbor Lighthouse - to the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Society
Conimicut Shoal Light - to the City of Warwick, Rhode Island
Grays Harbor (Westport) Light - to the Westport-South Beach Historical Society
West Point Light - to the City of Seattle, Washington