Huron Island Lighthouse Preservation Association holds successful fundraiser

L’ANSE — The Huron Island Lighthouse Preservation Association, a volunteer group working in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Seney, held a fundraiser at the Landmark Inn in Marquette on Sept. 25. HILPA depends on donations of money, supplies and labor for projects that have been approved by the USFWS. The Lighthouse, built in 1868, is located on West Huron Island (aka Lighthouse Island) in the Huron National Wildlife Refuge, three miles offshore from the mouth of the Huron River. The refuge is in Marquette County, but the nearest marina is in Skanee.

At Saturday’s event, HILPA Trustee and master of ceremonies Jeffery Loman, presented an award to Marie and Ron Stiebe, representing all the founding HILPA members. Their pioneering efforts stabilized the lighthouse and improved accessibility. He also recognized businessman Scott Holman, who purchased and restored an identical lighthouse on Granite Island. (Loren Graham, who restored a lighthouse on Grand Island, was unable to accept his award in person.) Holman regaled the gathering with informative, inspirational and entertaining stories of the challenges and rewards of restoring a remote Lake Superior lighthouse.

Generous monetary donations of $20,000 from the Holman Family Foundation and $1,000 from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Ojibwa Casinos, along with proceeds from the silent auction, will help HILPA meet high-priority preservation goals for the next season.

Entertainment was provided by musician Michael Waite and poet Kathleen M. Heideman.

For Loman, a KBIC member, a unique piece of Huron Island Lighthouse history is especially important. After President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Huron Islands a national bird sanctuary in 1905 to protect large colonies of nesting herring gulls, Lighthouse Keeper Witte, known as “Big Sneed,” was appointed a warden to protect the birds. Several times Witte used a shotgun to run off Indians who were accustomed to gathering eggs. Loman believes that preserving the history of acts that prevented Indians from exercising treaty rights is necessary for young tribal members to appreciate how sacred these rights are today.

HILPA meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Village Gift Store, 104 N. Main St. in L’Anse, and by Zoom. Anyone who would like to learn more about HILPA’s mission is welcome to attend, and may join HILPA as an annual or life member if desired. For information on membership contact Nancy Strohschein at (248) 892-1295 or email HILPAHuronIslandLighthouse@gmail.com. Follow HILPA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HuronIslands.

The Huron Island Lighthouse Preservation Association (HILPA) is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation formed to preserve the cultural, historical and architectural features of the Huron Island Lighthouse, auxiliary buildings and adjacent properties for future generations.


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