Grand reopening May 2: Historic Tawas Point Lighthouse

Courtesy Photo This undated photo provided Mihm Enterprises Inc. shows the patched brick exterior of the Tawas Point Lighthouse after a historic whitewash was applied from top to bottom. The lighthouse is now better preserved and more historically accurate.

After extensive restoration work, the Tawas Point Lighthouse — located in Tawas Point State Park in East Tawas — is set to reopen soon for the spring/summer season, but the public can get a sneak peek at a grand reopening Thursday, May 2 — a fitting date that marks 147 years since a light first shone from the tower’s lantern room onto Tawas Bay and Lake Huron.

The event, running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will kick off with the official reopening ceremony.

Following the ceremony, visitors can check out a variety of vendor booths, including the Tawas Bay Art Gallery, Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing, and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, enjoy live music and lunch from local food trucks, browse the gift shop, and take a free tour of the lighthouse.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan History Center, and the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park are partnering on this event.

The grand reopening is free of charge. However, a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to the park grounds.


The restoration work, which started in February 2023, was made possible through $455,500 in federal COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and outlined in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan.

Guided by historic architects at WTA Architects in Saginaw, the project’s primary focus was reversing the exterior deterioration of the lighthouse tower, as well as the lantern room and gallery. Mihm Enterprises Inc., a contracting company from Hamilton, was selected to conduct the work.

Between the two organizations, there are five Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation and five Michigan Historic Preservation Network Building Awards.

Tawas Point Lighthouse marked Mihm Enterprise’s 23rd lighthouse restoration project.

The team worked to identify and correct ventilation and moisture issues that had accelerated the tower’s decline. Those changes will improve safety and help prevent future deterioration.

While the tower itself remains white, the lantern and gallery colors may look different to repeat visitors. The colors, based on a paint color analysis, now reflect what was present at the lighthouse circa 1895.

“After many years, we are so excited to see the tower of Tawas Point Lighthouse return to the gleaming white beacon it was meant to be,” said Laurie Perkins, a Michigan History Center site historian for Tawas Point Lighthouse. “The crowning glory of the restoration project is the lantern room, where the 1891 fourth order Frensel Lens still resides. As work progressed on the tower, an exciting color palette dating to the turn of the 20th century reappeared, adding even more to the historical authenticity of the lighthouse.”


Tawas Point Lighthouse will officially open to the public Wednesday, May 8, and be open for tours Wednesdays through Mondays, from noon to 5 p.m. until Oct. 20.

Tours cost $5.

Every Tuesday, from June 4 through Aug. 27, the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park will conduct tours by donation from noon to 4 p.m.

“We are grateful for the hard work and immense care that the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park consistently dedicate to this historic site,” said Micah Jordan, the Tawas Point State Park supervisor. “As volunteers, they share their time, energy, and passion with this site. We appreciate the continued partnership with the friends group and their work for the reopening celebration.”

For more information about the lighthouse, visit Michigan.gov/TawasLighthouse. To learn more about the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park, visit tawaslighthousefriends.com.


A total of $250 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding was made available to the DNR to address a decades-long backlog of repair and maintenance needs in Michigan’s state parks system and build a new state park in Flint.

An additional $2.64 million in American Rescue Plan Act upgrades is proposed for Tawas Point State Park, including stabilizing the Lake Huron shoreline, upgrading parking lot and roads, and modernizing the campground electrical system.

To follow the status of ARPA-funded projects and learn more about funding and decision-making, visit Michigan.gov/StateParksProgress.

There, you’ll find FAQs, a photo gallery, and an interactive map identifying proposed project locations, details, and status of those projects.


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