A New Beginning at Gull Rock

By Jeremiah Mason

For many years, it seemed that gulls would be the only future inhabitants of Gull Rock, as the 1867 lighthouse deteriorated into ruin. After the light was automated in 1913, the Coast Guard did not have the resources to keep the building well-maintained. Maintenance deficiencies were quickly exacerbated by conditions on the half-acre rock, where the building is completely exposed to the full fury of Lake Superior storms. Time and again, roofing materials failed and could not be replaced before significant damage occurred eventually resulting in a piano-sized hole in the roof. By the time the Gull Rock Lightkeepers organized to preserve the station, half of the second and first floors had collapsed into the basement.

In 2004, volunteers entered the dwelling for the first time in decades. Many contractors thought it would take years to clean out the building. However, due to the incredible hard work and determination of a handful of volunteers, the entire building was emptied by hand in the summer of 2008, one 55-gallon garbage can at a time, filling three dumpsters full of debris. Through the cooperation of the National Park Service, a landing craft was hired to deposit supplies and pick up debris from the rock. Robert E. Johnson Contracting Inc., a local Keweenaw contractor, repaired and capped the chimney at the lighthouse, and installed a beautiful new bright red cedar shingle roof. This work was accomplished through the generous financial assistance of the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Trust for Architectural Easements, and many other public and private donors. Future plans include continued restoration of the lighthouse, and allowing public access to the light through a fellowship program open to scholars, scientists, and artists as well as eventual tours by the general public.

Jeremiah Mason is a Gull Rock Lightkeepers board member, and a direct descendent of James Corgan, one of Gull Rock’s most famous keepers.

Subfloor Restoration (2012)

First Floor - Dining Room

First Floor - First Room on the Left

First Floor - First Room on the Right

First Floor - Hallway

First Floor - Kitchen

Second Floor - First Room on the Right

Second Floor - Main Room

The Beacon© 2010 Gull Rock Interior Restoration Article

Privy Restoration (Summer 2009)

Lighthouse Roof Restoration (Summer 2008)

Interior - Before Cleanup (August 2008)

Interior - After Cleanup (August 2008)

Privy Roof Restoration (Summer 2008)

Cleanup Crew Volunteers (August 2008)

Contractors and Equipment (Summer 2008)


Photos on this page provided by Peter Annin, Jeremiah Mason, Debbie Roark, and Roger Welsh.



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