Tower Restoration

Grand reopening May 2: Historic Tawas Point Lighthouse

After extensive restoration work, the Tawas Point Lighthouse – located in Tawas Point State Park in East Tawas, Michigan – is set to reopen soon for the spring/summer season, but the public can get a sneak peek at a grand reopening Thursday, May 2 – a fitting date that marks 147 years since a light first shone from the tower’s lantern room onto Tawas Bay and Lake Huron.

The event, running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will kick off with the official reopening ceremony. Following the ceremony, visitors can check out a variety of vendor booths, including the Tawas Bay Art Gallery, Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, enjoy live music and lunch from local food trucks, browse the gift shop and take a FREE tour of the lighthouse.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan History Center and the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park are partnering on this event.

The grand reopening is free of charge; however, a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to the park grounds.

Restoring the light

The restoration work, which started in February 2023, was made possible through $455,500 in federal COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and outlined in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan.

Guided by historic architects at WTA Architects in Saginaw, the project’s primary focus was reversing the exterior deterioration of the lighthouse tower, as well as the lantern room and gallery. Mihm Enterprises, Inc., a contracting company from Hamilton, Michigan, was selected to conduct the work. Between the two organizations, there are five Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation and five Michigan Historic Preservation Network Building Awards. Tawas Point Lighthouse marked Mihm Enterprise, Inc.’s 23rd lighthouse restoration project.

The team worked to identify and correct ventilation and moisture issues that had accelerated the tower’s decline. Those changes will improve safety and help prevent future deterioration.

While the tower itself remains white, the lantern and gallery colors may look different to repeat visitors. The colors, based on a paint color analysis, now reflect what was present at the lighthouse circa 1895.

Read more about the restoration process in this Showcasing the DNR story.

“After many years we are so excited to see the tower of Tawas Point Lighthouse return to the gleaming white beacon it was meant to be,” said Laurie Perkins, a Michigan History Center site historian for Tawas Point Lighthouse. “The crowning glory of the restoration project is the lantern room where the 1891 fourth order Frensel Lens still resides. As work progressed on the tower, an exciting color palette dating to the turn of the 20th century reappeared, adding even more to the historical authenticity of the lighthouse.” 

Official reopening date

Tawas Point Lighthouse will officially open to the public Wednesday, May 8, and be open for tours Wednesday through Monday, from noon to 5 p.m. until Oct. 20. Tours cost $5. Every Tuesday, from June 4 through Aug. 27, the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park will conduct tours by donation from noon to 4 p.m.

“We are grateful for the hard work and immense care that the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park consistently dedicate to this historic site,” said Micah Jordan, the Tawas Point State Park supervisor. “As volunteers, they share their time, energy and passion with this site. We appreciate the continued partnership with the friends group and their work for the reopening celebration.”

For more information about the lighthouse, visit To learn more about the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park, visit

ARPA funding

A total of $250 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding was made available to the DNR to address a decades-long backlog of repair and maintenance needs in Michigan's state parks system and build a new state park in Flint.

An additional $2.64 million in ARPA upgrades is proposed for Tawas Point State Park, including stabilizing the Lake Huron shoreline, upgrading parking lot and roads and modernizing the campground electrical system.

To follow the status of ARPA-funded projects and learn more about funding and decision-making, visit There you'll find FAQs, a photo gallery and an interactive map identifying proposed project locations, details and status of those projects.

February 27, 2023
Protecting the museum

February 27, 2023
Boxing the Fresnel lens

February 28, 2023
View form the top

February 27, 2023
Building the frame

February 27, 2023

March 1, 2023

March 1, 2023

March 1, 2023

March 8, 2023

March 8, 2023
Adding the cover

March 8, 2023
Restoring the windows

March 17, 2023
Lantern room enclosed

March 17, 2023
Cover complete

March 17, 2023

March 17, 2023
Restoring the brass vents

March 24, 2023
Fresh paint

March 24, 2023
Priming the outside

April 7, 2023
Interior tower work

April 17
Brand new color

April 24, 2013
Revealing the new paint

Mihm brought in Northern Restoration fo the brick work and painting.

The parge coating was removed and damaged bricks were removed as well.

Before the paint was applied.

The beautiful, completed paint job!