On Wednesday, August 7 from 3-6pm the Door County Maritime Museum will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Cana Island Lighthouse. Cana Island is perhaps Door County’s most photographed lighthouse, celebrating 150 years of standing watch on the shore of Lake Michigan in 2019. The event, free and open to the public, will feature descendants of past lighthouse keepers, live music and light refreshments. The official program begins on Cana Island in Baileys Harbor at 4pm. The celebration coincides with National Lighthouse Day.
Guests are asked to allow for additional time to access Cana Island on August 7. Additional parking will be available at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall, with shuttle service to Cana Island. The “weather and wave” alternate location for the celebration will be the Baileys Harbor Town Hall.
Lighthouse celebration guests are also invited to the unofficial after-party at Door County Brewing Company in downtown Baileys Harbor. DC Brewing created “Ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al 5X Fast” — a beer to celebrate the 150th anniversary of both the Baileys Harbor Range Lights and the Cana Island Lighthouse. This draft-only pale ale will be available at the DC Brewing taproom and a few Door County spots this summer only!
The Cana Island light station grounds include a number of original buildings: the 89-foot-tall light tower and 3rd order Fresnel Lens, which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976; the hexagon-shaped oil house; the lighthouse keepers’ home; a period brick privy; and a wooden barn. When the lighthouse was originally constructed from Milwaukee cream city brick in 1869, it was the tallest brick structure in Door County. In the early 1900s, the brick was encased in protective steel cladding.
The Cana Island buildings and grounds have been maintained by the Door County Maritime Museum for over 40 years, and are in the final stages of a four-phase restoration. In 2009, the Museum, Door County Parks Department and Historic Structures Report project team identified basic flaws in the buildings that comprise the Cana Island light station that hindered access by the public, limited historical interpretation, and caused general degrading of the building infrastructure that would, if left unaddressed over time, result in the loss of historic structural integrity.
Phase 1 of the Restoration Project, which stretched from 2010 to 2015, included new restroom facilities and a maintenance building; construction of a new parking lot; repair to the copper roof; repainting of the tower; repaired masonry on the tower and keeper’s house; restoration of windows and doors; and many other updates.
Phase 2 was completed in 2017 and involved restoring the out-buildings on Cana Island including the oil house, privy and barn. Phase 3, currently underway, is to build a new welcome and interpretive center on the island. The new building will contain museum exhibit space, gift shop and admissions office, and will open for the 2020 summer season. Phase 4 will ultimately restore the interior of the keeper’s house to an historically accurate representation of the past.
Two of Door County’s most recognizable lighthouses — both built in 1869 — celebrate their 150th anniversaries in 2019: the Cana Island Lighthouse and the Baileys Harbor Range Lights. A community-wide celebration of the sesquicentennial of these two iconic sentinels of the Great Lakes takes place throughout 2019 in the town of Baileys Harbor. The Baileys Harbor Community Association commemorated the joint anniversary celebration with new banners throughout the downtown area, with images of the two lighthouses welcoming visitors all year long.
For more details regarding the 2019 celebration, please visit the following websites:
• Door County Maritime Museum – www.dcmm.org
• Baileys Harbor Community Association – http://baileysharbor.doorcounty.com/
• The Ridges Sanctuary – www.ridgessanctuary.org
The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc. preserves Great Lakes maritime history, primarily focusing on Door County, Wisconsin, and provides interpretive and educational opportunities for current and future generations. The Museum operates three locations, including the Door County Maritime Museum along the working waterfront in Sturgeon Bay; the iconic Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor; and the Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock. As one of northeast Wisconsin’s top tourism destinations, attracting more than 70,000 visitors annually, the Door County Maritime Museum serves as a resource for all 72 counties in Wisconsin. For more information, please visit www.DCMM.org or call (920) 743-5958.