Volume 1, Issue 9 - December, 2023

President's Letter

Dear Friends,

As we approach the end of another remarkable year in this great City of Chicago, I want to thank each of you for your unwavering support and dedication to preserving our beloved Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. We've made significant strides in bringing awareness toward our mission, and

I am thrilled to share some exciting updates with you.

Reviewing our accomplishments in 2023 and the strides made in raising awareness for our mission to Preserve, Restore, and Celebrate the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, one aspect truly shines through — our people. When I embarked on this journey, I anticipated hard work, but what surprised me was the sheer number of extraordinary individuals I've had the privilege to meet and engage with daily—all who share a love and admiration for our historic Lighthouse.

In this month's newsletter, I'm delighted to highlight the insightful article on the

"Clear Path to Ownership." It's a must-read for anyone passionate about our cause, shedding light on the steps and progress towards the Lighthouse's preservation and ownership. It's a testament to our collective efforts and a roadmap for the journey ahead. Moreover, I am thrilled to announce a pivotal milestone in our progress on the NHLPA (National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act) application. Our tireless advocacy and meticulous documentation have brought us closer to securing the official ownership of our Lighthouse. This achievement is a testament to our shared commitment and perseverance.

Looking forward, I'm excited to reveal a sneak peek into what's on the horizon. In 2024, we'll launch an array of exclusive Chicago Harbor Lighthouse merchandise! Stay tuned for an assortment of unique items that will celebrate our iconic landmark and contribute directly to our preservation initiatives. Check out a fun story about the development of one of our landmark items by a fellow sailor and lighthouse enthusiast.

None of this would be possible without your unwavering dedication. Whether through

donations, volunteering, or spreading awareness, your support is the cornerstone of our success. As we head into the holiday season and the new year, let's continue our journey together, united in our passion for preserving this beacon of Chicago's maritime history.

I want to extend a special heartfelt Thank You to everyone who participated in donating to our #GivingTuesday event. The results far exceeded all expectations!

Thank you for being part of our community and for your ongoing commitment to the Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. Together, we illuminate the path toward

a brighter future for this cherished symbol of our city.

We wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Be Safe and Be Well!


Kurt Lentsch

Chief Dreamer and President, Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

Giving Tuesday Huge Success! Thank you!

In a resounding display of generosity and community spirit, the Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse marked #GivingTuesday with an immensely successful fundraising campaign on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. Members and supporters rallied together, surpassing initial goals, and demonstrating unwavering dedication to preserving this iconic landmark.  Sixty-two donors generously donated over $11,600.00 to help with our Mission to Preserve, Restore, and Celebrate the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.  Forty-six donors will be receiving a complementary Barry Butler Chicago 2024 Calendar.

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse extends special appreciation to Barry Butler Photography, who provided free 2024 calendars for those who contributed $100 or more.  

“Barry’s stunning photography has enriched our visual understanding of the city and played a pivotal role in championing the cause of preserving our historic Chicago Harbor Lighthouses,” says President Kurt Lentsch. “With immense gratitude and a renewed sense of purpose, the Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse thanks the community and partners like Barry Butler Photography for their unwavering support and dedication.”

For those who missed the opportunity to participate in #GivingTuesday and want to donate, please visit www.SaveTheLighthouse.org/donate

If you are part of an organization that has an interest in financially supporting our efforts to Preserve, Restore, and Celebrate the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, please reach out to Nick Naber ([email protected]), our treasurer and a member of our fundraising working group.


Even a small donation could help

Friends of the

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

reach our fundraising goal.

And if you can't make a donation, it would be great if you could share the fundraiser to help spread the word.

Your contribution will enable us to offset the start-up costs for the

Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse

and begin the work of preservation and restoration...

We are very grateful for your generosity.

The Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is a 501c3 organization

so please make a tax-deductible gift to help us Save the Lighthouse!


If you are part of a group of 25 or more interested in learning more

about the history of our lighthouse and our efforts, please contact

Steve Clements ([email protected]) to discuss the possibility of scheduling a presentation for your group.

Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse Begins

Legal Process to Own Lighthouse

The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) of 2000 is a significant piece of legislation in the United States focused on the preservation of historic lighthouses. Prior to the NHLPA, historic lighthouses, automated and no longer manned, were often neglected or inadequately maintained. Many of these structures, including the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, are historically and culturally significant, representing important aspects of maritime history and coastal heritage. 

The main goal of the NHLPA is to provide a mechanism for the transfer of historic lighthouses and associated structures to state or local governments and eligible non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations. It was under this program that ownership of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was transferred to the City of Chicago in 2008.

The primary requirement for taking ownership of a historic lighthouse is that the applying organization must be capable of preserving and maintaining the historic integrity of the lighthouse and offer programs to provide access to the lighthouse and educational opportunities for the public. Interested eligible parties must submit a detailed application to the National Parks Service (NPS) following a prescribed format. This application includes a proposal outlining the organization's plan for the lighthouse's preservation, maintenance, and public access.

The NPS evaluates the applications based on criteria such as the historical significance of the lighthouse, the financial and technical ability of the applicant to preserve the lighthouse, and the proposed public access and educational programs. The process includes feedback from NPS to the applicant and opportunities to revise the application. If the final application is determined to offer the highest likelihood of meeting the objective of NHLPA, it is approved, and the process of transferring ownership is initiated.

After the transfer, the new stewards of the lighthouse are required to maintain the property according to the standards set out in their application, including preservation and public access commitments. The NPS monitors compliance to ensure the preservation of the lighthouse's historical integrity. If the standards are not followed, and the goals are not achieved, the NPS intervenes and looks for alternative agencies better suited to meet the goals of the NHLPA.

“We are excited to share that after nearly 22 months and numerous meetings with the NPS and the City, all parties have agreed on a process that will result in Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse taking ownership of Chicago’s beloved historic lighthouse," says President Kurt Lentsch. "We look forward to becoming the legal stewards of Chicago’s historic lighthouse and are thankful for the support received from Chicagoans, as well as lighthouse enthusiasts around the country. We could not have gotten to this point without you. As we embark on the next phase of our efforts, we know that you will continue to support us in our mission to Preserve, Restore, and Celebrate the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.”

FOCHL is actively engaged in completing the NHLPA application and will submit it to NPS in December. Once the application is moving toward approval, FOCHL will begin a predefined process with the City of Chicago to transfer ownership to the non-profit. It is expected that both of those processes will conclude in 2024, and the hard work can begin.

The Making of the Miniature

It all began with a simple question.

Do you have accurate construction blueprints for the Chicago Lighthouse?

Rick Stage, a Chicago native, USCG Captain, Chicago Race to Mackinac Solo sailor, and self-proclaimed “nerd cave dweller,” who is driven by a deep admiration for Chicago, embarked on a remarkable endeavor — to create a model that encapsulated the spirit and grandeur of the historic Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.

As it turns out, Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse has recently acquired copies of the original 1917 blueprints. Armed with these blueprints and cutting-edge technology, Rick used his computer design skills and 3D printer technology to breathe life into his vision.

The prototype emerged -a testament to the design potential held within the digital


Yet, Rick knew this was merely the beginning. He tirelessly worked on refining the digital model, pouring hours into perfecting every curve, balcony, and intricate detail that adorned the lighthouse. He even included an LED flashing red light, bringing the lighthouse to life.

Rick generously donated the first set of 24 lighthouse models to the FOCHL Working

Group members. After further refinements and testing, the group anticipates a final

model in the coming weeks.

As FOCHL looks forward to the launch of the online store in Q1 2024, this Chicago

Harbor Lighthouse model will be the group’s flagship item - a testament to Rick's

passion and the collaborative efforts of a dedicated team.

The final product, to be manufactured locally, will stand as a symbol of FOCHL’s

commitment to Preserving, Restoring, and Celebrating the Chicago Harbor

Lighthouse. More than a model - it is a beacon of craftsmanship, innovation, and

admiration for Chicago’s architectural marvels.

A Beacon for the New Year

Jack Watson seaman from Canonsburg, PA. Shown in the front of the Coast Guard boat on watch as they took mail to the men in the lighthouse.

Lonely Vigil On New Year's Eve 1965. New Year's Eve is no holiday for these coast guardsmen who must remain at their posts.

Photo Credit for images go to The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse will ring in the New Year for the 130th time this year!

That's a remarkable milestone, underscoring its enduring presence in the city's history.

For more than a century, the Lighthouse has been a steadfast sentinel, witnessing the city's evolution, celebrations, and moments of reflection. 

Here's to honoring its legacy and many more New Year's Eves, as this iconic beacon continues to guide and inspire Chicagoans and visitors alike.


Photo credit: Barry Butler

We need your help, and we are asking you to volunteer and join us in our mission to save the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse and keep its legacy alive for generations to come. 

We are a passionate organization dedicated to preserving, restoring, and celebrating the historic Chicago Harbor Lighthouse for future generations. Our mission would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers who share our passion and commitment to this iconic landmark.

As a volunteer with Friends of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, you will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience, meet new people, and make a meaningful impact in preserving a historic Chicago landmark that is cherished by our city.

If you are interested in donating your talents and joining our team, please visit our volunteer page at savethelighthouse.org/volunteer to learn more.

Currently, we are seeking talented and experienced part-time volunteers to assist us in the areas of fundraising (especially grant writing), construction, and community outreach to help us build and maintain our connections to local and national organizations.


Some of the talented volunteers, who are building this dream.

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