Poverty Island Lighthouse page....The story of the New Rock Island
This lighthouse lacked a lantern room - So we made a new one out
of a few pieces of leftover cast iron window sills.
On the left is park ranger Rene, who started my involvement in
this lighthouse by taking my son Ben (pictured), daughter Jessy and myself out to the
lighthouse during a camping trip in 1997. She gave me the address of the Friends of
Rock Island group who were looking for someone to design a lantern room for this
lighthouse. Having just built a full size replica of the Sherwood Point lighthouse
lantern for the Door County Maritime Museum, I wrote Tim Sweet of FORI and was hired to
draw the plans. After the plans were completed, I was asked to bid on building the
lantern. I won.
My original design did not include any of the original lantern
parts, since I didn't know there were any. It was to look like the original but was
intended to be made from aluminum and bolted together. Dan Rogers of the DNR's Green
Bay office told me of the existing cast iron window sills that were left in the lighthouse
basement and asked if there was any way I could incorporate them into the new lantern.
There wasn't, unless I duplicated the original. Since this lantern would be
viewed by thousands of people over the next few hundred years, I decided to go ahead and
"do it right". After finding and inspecting two other 1858 nine sided
lanterns still in existence, I had a good idea of how they were built. I also
learned where they were having problems. Since I would have to make many of the
missing cast iron pieces out of steel weldments, it was decided that improvements would be
made to the design to avoid the original design defects. I upgraded the wood from
yellow pine to Northern white ash, which is rot resistant, and modified the copper roof
structure to prevent condensation.
This image shows the parapet (base) structure and the new
vertical window mullions. The original lower window sills sit upon the parapet.
After constructing the lantern in my shop, it was dismantled and
transported to Rock Island by truck, ferry and steel workboat and finally the last 1.2
miles in the bed of a pickup truck. This Image shows the approach to Rock Island's
Close-up of the boathouse
Inside the boathouse
Installing the lantern room. Note my handy home made crane
for hoisting the heavy stuff up. The platform is 4 stories (40') above the ground.
Frank Luckenbach soldering the copper roof.
Frank's copper work was perfect.
A view of the interior wood work. I bought the door latch in
India last winter.
Another view of the interior showing the access hatch.
There it is. All done.
View from the south looking out to sea.
The view from the water.
Lantern Room Restoration could not have been completed
without the following people's help and support:
Benjamin Hodges (worked countless hours for no pay)
Marshall Paulsen (worked
several weeks for no pay)
Laib of Laib Restorations (worked for no pay and
Fred Bridenhagen (worked for no
pay and asked Hoffers Glass
of Green Bay to donate
the 3/8" window glazing)
Ranger Mark Eggleson (King of
The Rock) and the other park employees
who provided all the support and transportation we could use.
A coppersmith from Oconto and Chicago who
worked 33 hours for required union wages.
He was well worth it and his work was excellent.
owner of the Mission Grille Restaurant
for a generous cash donation towards
Frank's union wages.
Tim Sweet, President of FORI and all the
FORI members who raised cash
and obtained grants to pay the $13,800 cost of the original aluminum
facsimile Lantern Room contract. The additional funds (~$25k)
restoration of the lantern room incorporating the existing cast iron parts
were provided by Poverty Island.
Tony Hodges, Owner