FOX ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE ASSOCIATION

Rating: 4.86 stars   7 reviews

Issues: Environment

Location: PO Box 851 % John C McKinney Traverse City MI 49685 USA

Mission:
Results: LOTS! Since 2006, we have spent countless hours at the island saving buildings, moving rocks, touring visiting boaters.
Programs: Power point presentations are give around the area about our volunteer work.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

The Fox Island Lighthouse Association was founded in October 2004, initiated by Sandra Bradshaw of Suttons Bay, MI, and seconded by my humble self, an old sailor and lighthouse buff from Switzerland, and John McKinney of Traverse City, former Seagrant Agent. Our goal was to save the lonesome light station on South Fox Island, 17 nautical miles off the mainland in Lake Michigan, abandoned by the US Coast Guard in 1959 and left to decay. By recruiting the right people, doing a lot of publicity work (Sandra is a writer and journalist), building a network of connections to the relevant authorities (the station will be MI state land "in perpertuity" according to a deed from 1971), and volunteering thousands of hours of hard physical work at the station, the decay has been stopped. A Historic Structures Report was drawn up and submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office a few months ago. Real restoration of the structures (seven buildings, one of the biggest light station complexes in the USA!) will be allowed depending on the outcome of the assessment of the the report. Very much has already been achieved, but much more will have to be done in the future. We are determined to take up the challenge, which includes tackling huge transportation and financial problems and a constant fight against weather, because there is no harbor on the island.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

... every detail ever since it was founded.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

... try to make sure the group gets a work boat that has better fuel economy and is more suitable for transporting heavy goods than the current boat. Strictly speaking, this, of course, is a technical issue, not an organizational one, but it is the most pressing issue apart from building a safe harbor, which is not our task but would have to be done by the state.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

I was #2 in the founding process.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Saving the most isolated light station in Lake Michigan from further decay and bringing it to the attention of the public.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Restoring the station and turning it into a little education facility (environment, nautical history etc.).

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Rating: 4 stars  

This small non-profit effort to help preserve the most complete lightstation in the Great Lakes has been an amazing 6 year experience. We have captured this journey on our web site - photos, narratives, meeting minutes, public input - and I suggest you start there. foxisland.com

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

This n/p was founded in 2004 by a dedicated group of locals who were (still are) determined to keep the 7 building complex on South Fox from falling into disrepair. The Board of Trustees has been conservative in their financial issues. The lareges expense is fuel for their boat rides to and from the island. A small, but well run and organized group.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of advisors?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

The Fox Island Lighthouse Association is an all-volunteer group dedicated to stabilizing and restoring the light station complex on the publically-owned section of the island. In addition, members have been active in doing oral histories and collecting historical documentation of the station. Our budget is currently small (mostly covering fuel and materials we can’t get donated) but will increase as we take on bigger projects. Please help! It’s a very unique and special place.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

If you have a connection with light houses South fox light station is one of the most unique places in northern Michigan. Not just a lighthouse the station has 7 structures still standing including an oil house, fog signal building, boat house, work shop and a 3 apartment assistant keepers quarters. It’s one of the only stations to have had TWO lights operating through its history. The original lighthouse was first lit in 1867, the second light is a steel tower transported in 1934 from Sapalo Island in Georgia. The station operated for 102 years and was decommissioned in 1969. South Fox Island is one of 7 islands that dot their way up to Mackinaw Island. the station itself is 115 acres and sits on the southern tip. Rich in history it is recorded that even Mrs. Lincoln once stopped there while cruising the lake. More than 65 different men and their families served as keepers at the station while in operation. It was not a very desired or comfortable appointment: Isolated (19 miles from shore) location, wicked, extreme weather, and long hours. But the views are spectacular and fishing was in abundance. The location was key for navigation signals and overcoming challenges made the men strong and ground fertile. Fox Island Lighthouse Association is committed to stabilizing, restoring and preserving this unique bit of maritime history. One day the station will be an educational environment for many to learn what island life was like and the sacrifices made to ensure the safety of boaters in the past and become a safe port for boaters in the future.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Through the efforts of many volunteers awareness that the station even exists has been made and more than a few people have come forward and shared their stories about life on the station.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Increase membership and encourage more people to show support.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

Made my first trip to the station in 2000 when I was on the boat that brought - Zane Bourisseau out to the station to spread the ashes of his brother there. Zane is the grandson of the first native American lightkeeper - Louis Bourisseau. I fell in love with the station, noted the deterioration and made the commitment to save whatever we could.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Stabilization of structures!

What is its top priority in the long run?

To enhance all buildings and grounds for historical interpretation and educational exploration.

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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

As a volunteer at South Fox Island Lighthouse I can personally say it is one of the most beautiful and secluded spots in Lake Michigan. We are a small, dedicated group of people who have a mission and we wish to share this expierence with others. Check out the web site and read the history of this maritime jewel.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

The Fox Island Lighthouse Associaton (FILA) is an all volunteer...no paid staff... that is focused on the restoration/stabilization of the 7 building campus at the southern tip of South Fox Island in Northern Lake Michigan. We work with the State of Michigan, who owns the light station to enhance, restore and slowly develop this very unique setting. Two lighthouses are among the several out buildings at the campus. No safe harbor or anchorage is available making trips sometimes hazaderous.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Review from Guidestar