Fort Gratiot Light

The Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan and was the first lighthouse on Lake Huron. It is named for Fort Gratiot, a military outpost that was located south of the lighthouse.

As early as 1823, the U.S. government recognized the importance of protecting commerce on Lake Huron and on March 3 of that year, Congress appropriated $3,500.00 to construct a "lighthouse near Fort Gratiot in Michigan Territory." Winslow Lewis, a Massachusetts contractor specializing in lighthouses, was awarded the contract and in turn subcontracted Daniel Warren of Rochester, New York to build the light tower and keeper's dwelling.

On April 2, 1825, Congress appropriated an additional $5,000 for the project and on August 8 it was completed. The tower rose 32 feet above ground level, was 18 feet in diameter at the bottom, and 9 feet at the top. It was the first lighthouse constructed on Michigan shores. The new lighthouse was found to be to be built not according to original specifications and was poorly located. It eventually collapsed during a storm and was replaced with a brick structure 86 feet tall.

A brick duplex was added for the keeper and his assistant in 1874. The structures still stands today.

In 1931, three acres of land adjoining Fort Gratiot Lighthouse was purchased by the Government and on April 13, 1932 the new and present Coast Guard Station opened in Port Huron. Originally the Station consisted of a main building, boathouse, and lookout tower, with crew quarters, breakwater and fog signal added later.

The lighthouse was automated in 1933, with a range of 18 miles. In 1971 the Michigan Historical Commission designated the Fort Gratiot Light an historic site.

In 2004, USCG Port Huron moved into all new headquarters adjacent to the lighthouse. The lighthouse has become a museum operated by the City of Port Huron. The five-acre property was transferred to St. Clair County in 2010 through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

2014 Update
The oldest light in Michigan is once again open to visitors after extensive renovations. The station, now called Fort Gratiot Light Station County Park, is operated by a partnership of St. Clair County and the Port Huron Museum. The site had been closed to the public since 2008, due primarily to spalling brick on the light tower which caused a potentially hazardous situation. Stabilizing and preserving the light tower was the critical first phase of a preservation plan during which 35,000 faulty bricks on the outer surface were replaced. The tower was then coated with a weather proof sealant.

Ultimately the buildings and grounds will be restored to their mid-1930s appearance as this is viewed as the most significant period of the sites use. Visitors will note a number of significant improvements including ADA compliant sidewalks and interpretive panels with information about the history of the site.

 Details concerning tours of the light station are available at the Port Huron Museum website:

Click on images to enlarge

PRT passing the light - Cathy Stewart

Water view - Herm Klein

Photograph by Phil Tuttle

Photo by Matt Trombley

2009 photo by Terry Rimatzki

Location: Port Huron, Michigan
Date Built: 1825
Active: Yes

Open to public:

2800 Omar Street
Port Huron, MI 48060-2998
810-982-0891, Ext. 19
Click here for map
Return to Lighthouses of the Great Lakes Lake Huron Index