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Michigan has over 120 lighthouses along its shores, more than any other state in the country! From tall and imposing like the Little Sable Lighthouse near Pentwater to diminutive and stout like the Detroit River Light near Lake Erie, each lighthouse has its own look and style while being originally constructed for the same vital purpose: to help safely guide mariners along the potentially trecherous waters of the Great Lakes.
Today, many lighthouses are open the public as living history museums, allowing people to walk the spiral stairs to the lantern, explore living quarters, and breathe in the fresh lake air. Recognizing the iconic nature of these beacons as many were transferred out of federal ownership, in 2000 the State of Michigan established the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) to help lighthouse stewards restore and repair their historic lighthouses. Funded solely by the sale of the unique "Save Our Lights" vehicle license plate, annual MLAP grant awards support lighthouse preservation across the state. Over $2.8 million in matching grants has been awarded since the program began, benefitting dozens of lighthouses. These investments boost local tourism and support jobs along coastlines across Michigan.
Learn more about lighthouses in Michigan at the links below. When you are ready to visit a real lighthouse, explore the lighthouse guides available at Pure Michigan, Michigan's official travel destination!
Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) Grants Impact
Since the MLAP was established in 2000, the SHPO has awarded matching grants annually to promote the preservation of these historic maritime buildings. Grant funds are made available from the revenue generated by the sales of the Save Our Lights fundraising license plate. This map shows a complete list of all program grant recipients.
An Historic Structure Report (HSR) provides documentary, graphic, and physical information about a property's history and existing condition. The HSR serves as an important guide for changes made to a historic property before and during a project - repair, rehabilitation, or restoration - and can also provide information for maintenance procedures.
The creation of an HSR, by a professional who meets or exceeds relevant professional standards, is an encouraged preservation planning project which can be funded by a Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program grant. Explore a sample HSR here.
Preserve Michigan Lighthouses
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other U.S. state. Learn how you can help preserve them today!