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   Presque Isle Lighthouse


Historic Name

Presque Isle Lighthouse


Presque Isle State Park


Millcreek Township

Tax Parcel


Historic District



Class 1 (Definitions of Classes)

State Key Number


Historic Function

Transportation - water-related








Barn Type on property


Last Entry Update



The Presque Isle Light Station, better known as the Presque Isle Lighthouse, was put into service on July 12, 1873, and it is still a working aid to navigation today.

On July 25, 2014, the Presque Isle Light Station transitioned from being a residence for park staff to a publicly accessible heritage site under the administration of the Presque Isle Light Station, a non-profit organization which holds a 35-year lease with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The Presque Isle Light Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1983), and a Historic Structures Report for the site was completed in 2007. The report is the primary planning document for decision-making efforts concerning the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction of the Presque Isle Light Station.

The Presque Isle Light Station was commissioned in 1870 to replace the Erie Land Lighthouse. A new light was needed to warn mariners of the seven-mile long peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie – on an otherwise straight coastline. The light was also needed to provide mariners with a location marker so they could confirm their location as they traveled through the lake.

Construction began in September 1872. Building materials were first brought to the lakeside of the project site. Lakeside delivery proved to be too difficult and dangerous. A scow carrying 6,000 bricks was lost early in the project causing builders to consider a new method of getting materials to the site. Instead, a path was cleared through the swampy interior of the peninsula to connect the construction site with Misery Bay and the City of Erie. Construction material was brought by boat from Erie and transported along this path. Today, this path is known as Sidewalk Trail.

Construction of the lighthouse was suspended for the winter on December 8, 1872. In the initial three months of construction, the masonry of the residence and that of the tower was well under way, the residence was roofed, and the tower covered. Construction resumed in April 1873, and the station as ready for occupancy on July 1, 1873. The entire station cost $15,000 to construct. Limestone was used as the foundation for the tower and residence. Plans originally called for the entire structure to be built of limestone, but the design was later changed to use bricks above ground to reduce costs.

Attached to the residence is the tower. Constructed of brick, the tower is square on the outside and round on the inside. The thickness is needed to protect the structure from the fierce storms that occur on Lake Erie. Initially, the tower height was 40 feet. In August of 1896 a project to increase the tower height an additional 17 feet to 57 total feet was began to enhance the visibility of the light from the lake.

The overall height of the tower, to the top of the ventilator ball is 73 feet with the light sitting at 63 feet above ground level. In 1899 the red bricked tower was painted white so it would stand out as a ‘day mark’ for ships and vessels on Lake Erie.

A winding staircase of 78 iron steps provides access to the lantern room at the top.

Sources: Northwest Institute of Research, Historic Survey 1982



Presque Isle Lighthouse National Register nomination


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Photo courtesy, Erie County Assessment Office


2015 Photo


Photo circa 1872

Photo circa 1885

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