The Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses, located in Presque Isle Township (roughly 30 miles north of Alpena), have been guiding beacons for sailors traveling across the Great Lakes.

This year, the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse turns 180 years old, while the New Presque Isle Lighthouse turned 150 years old. The 1905 house, located next to the newer light, celebrates its 115th anniversary. Presque Isle and Alpena locals take great pride in these historic buildings. To them, they are nostalgic and are seen as peaceful symbols of home on the Great Lakes.

The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840 in Presque Isle, Michigan by Jeremiah Moors of Detroit. During those times, a lighthouse was much needed in the area due to increased ship traffic. The lighthouse was a guide to bring sailors into the safe little cove of Presque Isle harbor. This light is the oldest accessible lighthouse along the Great Lakes that is open to the public. Local legends say that it is haunted, which has intrigued many ghost hunters across the country to travel to Michigan to see if they are lucky enough to witness a supernatural experience.

Construction of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. Photo Courtesy: Presque Isle Township Museum Society.

Henry Woolsey was the first appointed lighthouse keeper and officially took the position on September 23, 1940, with an annual salary of $350. Lighthouse keepers following Woolsey included George Murray, Stephen V. Thornton, and Louis J. Metivier. Patrick Garrity Sr. was the last lighthouse keeper to serve the Old Presque Isle light, and then transferred to the new light when it was ready to take on torch of lighthouse duties.

The old lighthouse stands at 30 feet tall and 18 feet in diameter at its base and had a Fresnel lens. An upgraded lantern room was built in the 1960s. The keeper’s quarters is a two-story building, with the second story being a loft that overlooks the cozy living space. The dwelling has been updated throughout the years and resides as a museum filled with unique artifacts. When visiting the grounds, visitors can pose for the perfect photo op in the stockades, and can also ring the old bell from the Lansing City Hall clock tower. The bell was acquired by Francis Stebbins and weighs 3,425 lbs. When the wind is just right, locals living around the Grand Lake area can hear the deep humming sound of the bell. The Old Lighthouse, keeper’s dwelling, and grounds are operated by the Presque Isle Township.

The New Presque Isle Lighthouse

New Presque Isle Lighthouse grounds. Photo Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard.

The New Presque Isle Lighthouse was erected in 1870 when the Old Presque Isle lighthouse was no longer able to take on the proper responsibilities a lighthouse needed to operate. The old light was too small and needed to have major upgrades to continue doing its duties in guiding ships into the harbor. The new light was designed by Orlando M. Poe and William Reynolds, both engineers.  One of Poe’s trademark designs was the arches placed above the windows near the top of the tower. The New Presque Isle Lighthouse is one of eight structures with a similar design. The tower stands at 113 feet and is the tallest light on the shore of the Great Lakes that the public is allowed to climb.

Originally, the lighthouse had a third-order Fresnel lens. It was named after designer and physicist, Augustin Jean Fresnel. Today, the light uses an airplane beacon, which can be seen from ships sailing Lake Huron from 25 miles away.

A range light was also built when the new lighthouse was constructed. Visitors can get a glimpse of the building on their way to visit the old and new lighthouses. In 1905, Anna Garrity, daughter of Patrick Garrity Sr., became one of the first female range light keepers across the Great Lakes.

The Presque Isle Range Light looks over Lake Huron. Photo Courtesy: Presque Isle Township Museum Society.

Next to the new light tower is the 1905 house, which was built to provide living space for lighthouse caretakers and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. Today, the 1905 house resides as a museum and is operated and managed by the Presque Isle Township Museum Society.



*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Presque Isle Lighthouses and 1905 house are currently closed. The grounds are still open to the public, so guests are still able to take photos, hike the trails, and enjoy the picturesque views of Lake Huron.*