Grosse Point Lighthouse, located at the southern end of Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois, was established in 1873 as the primary lighthouse marking the approach to Chicago. The lighthouse tower stands 113 feet tall and is constructed of Cream City brick encased in concrete. Still in use in the lantern is the original second-order Fresnel lens, manufactured by the Henry-Lepaute Company of Paris. In 1935, after the station was automated and destaffed, the federal government turned over the property, except for the lighthouse tower and light, to the City of Evanston.
Donald J. Terras is the director of the Lighthouse Park District in Evanston, and he manages the Grosse Point Light Station Museum. He is also the author of the books Grosse Point Lighthouse: Landmark to Maritime History and Culture and Lighthouses of Chicago Harbor: Their History, Architecture and Lore. Mr. Terras served on the steering committee to establish a National Lighthouse Museum and is a past president of the American Lighthouse Council. He is also a recipient of the American Lighthouse Council’s F. Ross Holland Distinguished Service Award.
In this interview, Don Terras looks back on nearly four decades of work at Grosse Point Light Station and in the broader world of lighthouse preservation.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org