City of Port Washington saves its iconic lighthouse

NOW: City of Port Washington saves its iconic lighthouse

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Port Washington lighthouse has a new owner, the city itself. After years of working to get ownership of the lighthouse, it’s official.

Whether you live in or are visiting Port Washington, most people have taken a moment to capture the beauty of the Port Washington North Pierhead Lighthouse.

“It is a magnet for people,” Executive Director of Port Washington Tourism Kathy Tank said.

Tank said visitors come from all over the Midwest to see the nearly 90-year-old lighthouse.

“It’s on our logos, our police cars,” Tank said. “I know the word iconic is overused these days, but it truly is an icon of the city.”

The lighthouse was previously owned by the federal government but was put up on the market. Port Washington city officials have been working for the last three years on acquiring the lighthouse. Officials didn’t want a second party to own it because they feared it could become an eyesore in the city.

“It was a big concern that if someone else acquired it they would just not do anything to it and just let it go,” said Mark Grams, Port Washington City Administrator.

The city did have to apply but didn’t have to pay anything for the lighthouse. However, the city is currently raising $25K to fix the porthole windows, roof holes and other cracks in the next year. In the next five years, they plan to apply for grants to get a $500K paint job.

The city is working on getting the lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse is unique in its design. The Port Washington Historical Society said it’s one of a few lighthouses with the Art Deco design.

“I love to think that we are not just tearing and building new all the time and that we can preserve that,” Marketing Coordinator of the Port Washington Historical Society Kathie Gordon said.

For many in Port Washington, they simply want to preserve an icon and know it’s in the right hands.

“It’s not just pretty to look at and take a picture, but it has a lot of personal meaning to a lot of people in the community,” Tank said. “So, no it wouldn’t have gone anywhere but now it’s ours.”

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