Building to return to lighthouse grounds

GULLIVER – A building that was removed from the Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse property five decades ago is finally coming home to its original location.

The assistant lightkeeper’s house is currently being moved 500 feet from its present location to the lighthouse park, explained Marilyn S. Fischer, president of the Gulliver Historical Society.

Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse is operated by the local historical society in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The lighthouse is a Michigan Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark.

Fischer explained the building being moved was constructed in 1892 as a barn to house horses used to build the lighthouse and its living quarters. Around 1907, the structure was converted into a dwelling for the assistant lightkeeper.

At one point, three lightkeepers and their families resided at Seul Choix at the same time, said Fischer. When the Coast Guard made plans to replace the wooden structure with a brick house in the 1950s, the building was sold and moved to property on McDonald Lake.

When new owners purchased that property in 2006, they donated the building to the local historical society to return it to the lighthouse property where the brick dwelling was never constructed, said Fischer.

“The historical society had a long-term lease with the State of Michigan for the care and upkeep of the entire lighthouse park,” explained Fischer, adding, at that time, the state would not allow any buildings to be moved onto the site.

Property owners next door to the lighthouse agreed to lease 200 feet of land close to the park for up to 20 years so the historical society could move the building there temporarily.

“After eight years of seeking permission to move the house into the lighthouse park by writing letters to the governor, head of the DNR, parks and recreation division, and anyone in the government that could possibly help, no one came forward,” recalled Fischer.

“Finally, Park Supervisor Lee Vaughn from Indian Lake State Park and his supervisor, Tom Pauquet from St. Ignace, got the ball rolling on the project,” she said.

After going through all the proper channels, permission was finally granted to allow the building back on the park property.

Anthony Vandermissen and Sons House Movers of Escanaba is moving the structure to its former location west of the boathouse museum. Archeologists excavated the site prior to construction of the cement foundation there, said Fischer.

The 118-year-old building has been absent from its original home for almost 50 years. The historical society renovated the exterior and plans to restore the gutted interior to house the organization’s genealogy research library, she said.

Funds for the move and renovations are being paid for through donations and the sale of Fischer’s recently-published book called “Spirits at Seul Choix Pointe.”