|Southport Lighthouse||Seeing The Light|
In 1847, land was purchased on Simmons Island for the construction of the first "Government Light," with construction of the light completed the following year.
A larger second light, equipped with a Fifth Order Fresnel was was built to replace this original structure in 1858, however it's construction was less than acceptable, as in a matter of a decade it was found to be deteriorating sufficiently to require replacement by the existing structure in 1866.
Standing fifty-two feet tall, the tower was built of Cream City brick, and unlike other tall towers constructed of such material appears to have weathered the years well, with only slight flaking evident in the structure today. Equipped with a Fourth Order Fresnel lens, the light originally exhibited a fixed white with a single flash panel. This signature was later changed to an isophase flash. The tower stood alone for one year until the completion of the keepers dwelling in 1867
As a result of mild winters on the Lake Michigan's West Coast, in 1903 the Lighthouse Board ordered the light to remain illuminated throughout the year. Only three years thereafter, the decision was made to discontinue the light, and the light was extinguished permanently. In 1913, the lantern was removed, and the tower capped-off at the gallery level. That same year, a twenty-one foot tall steel tower with a fifteen foot flagstaff at its' top was installed for the display of storm warning signals.
In the early 1950's the Federal Government was making plans to demolish the structure. Concerned citizens and civic groups banded together in an effort to save and preserve the tower, which had grown to become a treasured landmark to the people of Kenosha. In 1955, the U.S. Government conveyed a quitclaim on the lighthouse and station property to the City of Kenosha.
Finally, in 1994, sufficient funds were raised to allow the replacement of the lantern room, and the installation of a 300mm acrylic optic within. While no longer registered as an active aid to navigation by the Coast Guard, the light has been reactivated and once again shines proudly from the lantern room.
For more information on
the Kenosha Historical Society, or to make a donation to assist in
the tower restoration project, contact: