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  • Jake Heffernan

A Look Inside Kewaunee's Sister Light - "Big Red"

Updated: May 27

Kewaunee's sister-light across Lake Michigan in Holland is affectionately known as "Big Red." This lighthouse is one of the most photographed in the state of Michigan...from the outside. Interior photos are rare because the lighthouse is surrounded by private property - no public easement exists between the parking lot and the lighthouse.

Jake Heffernan, Vice-President of the Friends of the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse was recently given a tour of "Big Red" by two of the volunteers dedicated to her upkeep. John Gronberg and Bill Tazelaar of the Holland Historical Lighthouse Commission invited Heffernan to tour the lighthouse to explore the similarities and differences between Kewaunee's lighthouse and "Big Red."

The fog signal building at Holland was built in 1907, behind a tower which had been built in 1902. The building was used to generate steam for a 10" diameter fog whistle.

Holland Lighthouse ca. 1913 - USCG

In 1936, a tower was built out of the roof of the fog signal building, essentially giving the lighthouse its current appearance. The lighthouse wouldn't become "Big Red," however until the Coast Guard painted the building red in 1956.

In February 2007, the Holland Lighthouse was transferred from the National Park Service to the Holland Historical Lighthouse Commission. Since then, the interior has been refurbished but the lighthouse remains closed to the public. The Commission owns the lighthouse and the area surrounding the pier, but there is no public access to get to the Commission's property.

Hopefully soon, the public will be able to tour the inside of this beautiful example of a Great Lakes pier lighthouse! Until then, enjoy the photos here.

More information about "Big Red" can be found with the Holland Historical Lighthouse Commission and the Holland Lighthouse page at Lighthouse


We would LOVE to restore the interior of Kewaunee to the same beauty that Holland has been restored to, but we can't do it without your help!

Use the "Buy Now" button to support the restoration of the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse!




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