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Poverty Island Lighthouse page....The story of the New Rock Island Lantern Room

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This lighthouse lacked a lantern room - So we made a new one out of a few pieces of leftover cast iron window sills.

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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.

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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.

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This image shows the parapet (base) structure and the new vertical window mullions.  The original lower window sills sit upon the parapet.

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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 boathouse.

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Close-up of the boathouse

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Inside the boathouse

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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.

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Frank Luckenbach soldering the copper roof.

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Frank's copper work was perfect.

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A view of the interior wood work. I bought the door latch in India last winter.

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Another view of the interior showing the access hatch.

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There it is.  All done.

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View from the south looking out to sea.

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The view from the water.

The 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)

  • Terry Laib of Laib Restorations (worked for no pay and donated materials)

  • 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.

  • Frank LuckenbachA coppersmith from Oconto and Chicago who worked 33 hours for required union wages. He was well worth it and his work was excellent.

  • Mary Ann, 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) for the restoration of the lantern room incorporating the existing cast iron parts were provided by Poverty Island.

Thanks for visiting!
Tony Hodges, Owner
Poverty Island