Posted/Updated by Bryan Penberthy on 2007-10-23.
This site was chosen for the nearly eighty foot bluff on which the tower would sit, and was used to mark the north entrance to Milwaukee. The first lighthouse, built in 1855 of cream city brick, stood 28-feet tall. It was in use for more than thirty years until it was in danger of being lost to erosion.
The second tower, constructed to the west of the original tower in 1888, was a little taller than the first at 39-feet. Rather than brick, the tower was constructed of cast-iron plates. Attached to the tower via an enclosed walkway, was the keeper's quarters which was originally built to house one family. The quarters would undergo several updates to over the years to eventually house three families. The quarters weren't the only thing to grow; many of the trees surrounding the lighthouse did as well. By 1911, the tower was barely visible, and it was clear that something needed to be done.
Rather than constructing a new taller tower, engineers built a new 35-foot base of steel plates, and then lifted the original cast-iron lighthouse onto the top. This created a new lighthouse which would now be 74-feet with a focal-plane of 154 feet. Although the original lighting apparatus of the first tower is unknown, in 1868 a fourth-order Fresnel lens was installed, later moved to the 1888 tower, and finally reinstalled in the new taller tower. It was officially lit on December 15, 1912. Automation took over in the 1960s, and it was officially decommissioned on March 15, 1994.
The lighthouse is currently owned by Milwaukee County, and is being leased to the North Point Lighthouse Friends. In 2006, the group completed the tower restoration. When my wife and I visited in May 2007, the group was in the middle of the restoration of the keeper's quarters. The group maintains a website located at: http://www.northpointlighthouse.org. Please visit their site for more information and to show your support.
Directions: The lighthouse sits on the grounds of Lake Park. From I-43, exit at the Locust Street exit. Take this east (the road changes names to E. Locust Street). Follow E. Locust Street all the way to the end. It will end at N. Lake Drive. Make a right (head south) on North Lake Drive for a short distance. You will see the entrance to Lake Park. As you enter the park, immediately veer to the right. This will take you to a parking area. The lighthouse will be a short walk south.
Access: Grounds open. Tower open in season.View more North Point Lighthouse pictures