Fundraising begins for lighthouse preservation

As temperatures heat up, so too is more fundraising to help preserve Grand Haven's historic lighthouses.
Alex Doty
Jun 22, 2012


“What we’re trying to do is preserve a piece of history and something that makes Grand Haven unique,” said Ken Formsma, who is helping the Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy raise money for the preservation efforts.

Conservancy members hope to raise $100,000 for the lighthouse preservation project by Labor Day. The entire project is estimated at $255,000.

“I said, ‘I’ll give you the 92 days of summer and we’ll raise funds though bricks, T-shirts and puzzles,’” Formsma said. “We need to make sure we have what we need so the first phase can begin this fall.”

The first phase involves removal of lead paint, Formsma said.

“We have to have this fundraiser now because people don’t want to donate to a bank account as much as they like to donate to a cause,” he said.

Tri-Cities Historical Museum Executive Director Ken Pott, who is also a member of Conservancy, said the group is working to match $100,000 pledged by the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation through the summer-long fundraiser.

“This is a very exciting development and it is very exciting to see the community so supportive of the endeavor in so many ways,” Pott said.

Bricks will be sold for $100 each. The bricks will be installed near the start of the catwalk at the base of the south pier.

“They will be installed for a permanent display for the restoration project,” Pott said. “It’s going to have a function for blocking sand and as a seating area.”

Formsma said the fundraising T-shirts were created by Randy Smith of Michigan Rag Co. They feature a screen print of a lighthouse photo by Ottawa County Judge Ed Post.

The fundraiser's puzzle also features a lighthouse photo taken by Post.

Formsma said people have several different ways to obtain a brick, shirt or puzzle.

One way is at a gazebo between Waterfront Stadium and the Chamber of Commerce office, 1 S. Harbor Ave. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday over the next 10 weeks, staffed by volunteers.

The fundraiser items are also available at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau, Michigan Rag, Grand Haven City Hall and all Tri-Cities Fifth-Third Bank locations.

A coupon to purchase bricks will also appear in the Grand Haven Tribune on Thursdays this summer.

Formsma said the preservation project is important, as it would realize a goal set out in the 1980s to offer waterfront activity to families at no cost.

“We have a gift with this waterfront, and we have thousands of owners to the waterfront improvements,” he said.

City Manager Pat McGinnis hopes the city will assume ownership of the lighthouses from the federal government sometime this summer.

“As soon as it is practical, the city will get ownership,” he said.



I don't live in Grand Haven...But I would like to support the lighthouse...let us out-of-towners know how we can purchase a brick, tshirt, or puzzle! :)


The Grand Haven Lighthouse fund raising effort is certainly a good one. It's obvious that much work has gone into this community project that we will all benefit from. However, I'm surprised to see there's no website for direct donations. In today's cyber world on-line fundraising is key to getting donations to a maximum level. There must be an easy and convenient way to contribute to the cause. After reading your story I was ready to go to my computer and make a donation - perhaps even buy a brick. But there's no website where this can be done. After searching on Google I found the local Grand Haven visitors website where I can download a PDF file, print it out, write a check, and then mail it to make a contribution. Please get with the 21st century and create a website where direct donations can be made. A website was created to help the lady who got verbally abused on the school bus. Their hope was to raise $5K in 30 days. After little more than a week $335K has been raised. Good luck with your fund raising effort.

John, Spring Lake


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