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Coast Guard 44 foot Motor Life Boat restoration (44376)

Pictured below is the original 1875 Tawas Life Saving Station. The 1930's addition was removed off of the site and the original 1875 structure moved onto a new foundation. The old station has become part of the new development on the lot, which was once station property. The original station has been saved, but the historic setting that it was in was not with open space around the station now built into a housing development. Saving the original station was the main goal and what was most important. What was lost was the natural setting the station was in with the outbuildings and drill grounds for the crews. We are glad that the station was saved and we want to thank everyone who supported us in making this happen with your donations and letters of support, we really appreciate it and it made the project all that much more worth while because people care. We also want to thank the property developer who without their help, would not have made this possible either and they do deserve a big thank you.

Other stations are threatened in Michigan and we will try to keep you posted on progress being made to help save those as well.

These pictures were all taken on September 9th, 2005. You can see the house on its new foundation and some of the siding removed.

Here is a photo from the road showing the eleven town homes built on the site. It would have been nice to see more open space for the old station had more been available.

Here is the station sitting close to the house next door and you can see the row of houses next to the station as well.

The main goal was saving at least the original station, which is what was accomplished. At the US Life Saving Service Heritage Association Annual Meeting, this station was listed as a potential save right now or else situation. The station will remain on the Threatened/Doomsday Station list until the outside of the building has been restored.

August 9th, 2005

We have discussed the latest construction work with the developer today. The original station has been moved to the north end of the property and sits on a new foundation now. Plans for the rest of the year include sealing up any siding left open from the removal of the 1930's addition and putting on a new roof. The roof will require the detailed supports to be fabricated and put in place. From the architectural drawings Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy has provided the owner, he will use those with a combination of existing material to reconstruct the missing pieces. This should be completed before the 2005 winter.

Plans are still underway for the exterior siding. He wants to keep the outside as original as possible. The interior will be kept as original as possible as well with modifications for modern amenities such as a kitchen and bathroom which do not exist in the current structure. The restoration may take another year to year and a half, but now that the house is sitting on a new foundation, things have moved onto the positive side of things from the negative. Stay tuned as further updates happen this fall.

May 2nd, 2005


We were informed today from a short telephone call from the land developer that the old Tawas Life Saving Station will be saved as part of the land development going on at Tawas Point. This is such great news for us to get. Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy has agreed to provide the developer with a set of original architectural plans of the station, original specifications from 1875 and a copy of all of the historical photos we have on file so he may use them in brining the building back to as original condition as possible with some minor changes to make it more usable for modern living on the inside and some minor work on the outside.

We are thrilled that this is happening. The station is going to be moved from its original location to a new one, but on the same original government lot and on the water still. This keeps it in a much more historic setting than being out in the woods on another lot. While there is still a lot of work for the developer and moving a building involves some risks, we feel that overall this will be a good project to undertake and hopefully will go well. We are going to lend the developer any assistance we can and try to promote being as original to the historical aspects of the building as we can and still provide a middle ground for modern re-use of the building.

Currently the 1935 addition has been removed from the building and the original 1875 portion is still standing. The additions basement has not been completely removed and filled in yet. They have tarps over the exposed areas. We found during the architectural visit that many of the original interior wooden tongue and groove walls, ceilings and floors had all been preserved under a couple layers of drywall, carpet and was mostly all intact. The developer also informed us that some of the original siding was still on the building, but had been cut up from the base at one point and time.

Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy would like to thank all of those over the past several months that have sent in donations and letters of support as well as helped spread the word about the station being torn down. Your donations and support allowed us to send out numerous press releases, produce brochures on the station situation, advertise it on the web site, make numerous phone calls and then when we thought all was lost - to hire an architectural firm to document the entire station as it stood for historical purposes and generations to come. This was the largest expense we had on the project and we wanted to do it so the station would be remembered.

This is one small victory on which there are many other battles around Michigan and the Nation on preserving these structures for future generations. Thanks everyone for your support! Below are some recent photos of the construction taking place. These photos were taken on May 4th, 2005.

Note all of the original architecture is under the new siding. It was cut approximately two feet up from the foundation, probably because of rotting wood over time. Shown is the North East corner facing the water. The boat house doors would have been on the left side of the photo. Note the bottom of the diamond shaped features typical of this station type.

Shown here is the side facing the water. The boat house doors would have been where the window and door are now.

This is the side where the Coast Guard put the 1935 addition on the side to expand the station. It has been tentatively sealed up to keep the elements out.

You can see in this picture where the bottom of the siding was removed to get access to the foundation and to actually see if the original siding was still there.

The garage, small shed and second boat house stood in this location on the left side of the photo, but has since been torn down the week of May 2nd, 2005.

The back side of the station facing the road.

A front view with the addition removed and dirt being brought in to fill the old basement that was dug out.

A wider view of the dozer working to fill the basement.

This is a sign that marks the entrance to the area of the old station. A lot of Coast Guard family housing was in the immediate area, some former Coast Guard people still live there to this day. Since the station will not be torn down, this sign will remain true to the area it represents.

January 13th, 2005


The Tawas Life Saving Station will be lost forever in the very near future. A land developer has plans to tear the buildings down before the end of January 2005. Not receiving enough funding to move the buildings or dismantle them, the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy will not be able to save the buildings. Private investors were also sought to purchase the property from the land developer, but no agreements on a selling price could be reached.

In order to preserve the stations memory, MLC has hired UP Engineers & Architects out of Marquette Michigan to produce a complete a set of drawings for the buildings as they exist now. These copies will serve as one of the last reminders of the station. They will be kept in paper and electronic form for anyone wanting to view them in the future who researches the Tawas Station. Copies will also be offered to the National Archives and the State of Michigan Archives as well for preservation. Copies are made available to anyone for a nominal fee to help recover costs.

Unfortunately, not enough time and money existed to save this station, let it serve us as a reminder of how our society will let historic properties like this and others meet the wrecking ball. Let us hope we learn our lessons so we may prevent this from happening in the future. Check back for updates as we were informed that the bulldozer was coming before February arrives.

Weather conditions may stave off the bulldozer for a few weeks or so and we are publishing this disclaimer here because the property is not in our control and we can only publish what we have been told to by the developer.

September 20th, 2004 PRESS RELEASE to Michigan Newspapers below. Station Tawas as it sits today pictured below.

The publics help is needed now to fund saving this historic structure. Please send in your donations or call us. This is the latest information. The bottom line is we need to move the station and we need funds to do it.

     An important part of our nationís maritime history may be lost without immediate help. The former U.S. Coast Guard Station or old U.S. Life Saving Station is being threatened by development and needs to be saved immediately or it will be torn down. This information is presented in hopes of raising enough interest to save something that cannot be replaced and the funds necessary to do it.

     Congress created the U.S. Life Saving Service in 1871 which is the forerunner to todayís U.S. Coast Guard. Recognizing Michiganís treacherous coastline in 1875 a station was built at what was known as Ottawa Point on Lake Huron or today is known as Tawas Point. The station contains a boat-house, garage, shed and the station house. Just down the shoreline on the same point of land that extends out into the lake, another structure was built to aid the mariner in navigating the coast, which is the Tawas Point lighthouse.             

     The Life Saving Service during its official life of 44 years, before becoming part of the U. S. Coast Guard in 1915, was credited with going to the aid of over 178,000 persons in peril on the water. Not many people know about the Life Saving Service and its history. The motto of the service was ďYou have to go out, but you donít have to come backĒ and they lived by this motto with many men sacrificing their lives to rescue those in distress.

     The station had an addition put on in 1935. Today, the original 1875 Type station still exists under those modifications and is in dire trouble of being lost forever if something isnít done to save the building from being destroyed if they are not relocated or dismantled. The station is nearing the end of its days because of lakefront development like so many other stations, which have been torn down. Michigan alone has lost most of these old stations and very few are left to tell this part of history.

     Our story begins a long time ago. The land that the Tawas Life Saving Station was built on was loaned to the government as long as they used it for life saving purposes. The U.S. Coast Guard expanded over the years and eventually a new modern station was built on the opposite side of the point. A unique problem with the Tawas station was the fate of the station based on the landowner loan. The Coast Guard, once they stopped using the old station gave the land back to the relatives of the man who made the agreement with them back in the 1800ís as required. The buildings received no historical preservation covenant on them. The relatives who received the station back decided to sell the property.

     The Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy (MLC), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization whose goal is to help save threatened lighthouses and life saving stations in Michigan tried to get the entire property donated for preservation which did not occur. The fear existed that the buildings, if purchased, could be torn down to make way for a new lakefront development. MLC has persuaded the new owner, who is a land developer, to work with us on trying to preserve the station by not tearing the buildings down and donating them to us if we can move them from the property.

     The station is one of only sixteen such structures built around the United States under architect Francis W. Chandlerís design, and only one of five still standing today. Very few original Life Saving Service stations remain in Michigan today and it is vitally important for MLC to help save this building. We have a limited time line to get the buildings moved off the current property or dismantled for re-assembly in a yet to be determined location, which is the only way to save them from being destroyed by development.

     We are looking at many options to save these buildings; the bottom line is they need to be moved or dismantled which costs a lot of money. At the very least, our goal is to save the original 1875 station house and move it to a safe location for restoration and to become a possible museum or used for other public education about our maritime heritage. Once restored it will become a valuable national treasure and hopefully become a National Historic Landmark. If other parts of the station can be saved then those are considered bonuses.

     All of these options require funds, land donations or purchases. THIS IS A CALL FOR HELP! We desperately need to raise money to save these buildings. The bottom line price tag to move the building, purchase a lot or dismantle the building and move it somewhere else is approximately $60,000. More will be needed for restoration.

     Another option we are discussing right now is to leave the station in place and purchase it from the developer for what he paid and that figure is $500,000. Leaving the station in its original location would be the most historically accurate thing to do. We are hopeful someone may come forward to do this such as a large corporate sponsor or a few donors with the entire amount needed. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity because once the buildings are lost, they are lost forever. Other stations on Lake Huron that have been lost are the original Port Huron; Harbor Beach; Sturgeon Point; Thunder Bay Island and Middle Island stations. There is only one Life Saving Service museum on Lake Huron located in Huron City which is the former Pointe Aux Barques station. It was moved from its original location to be saved. We hope to make this the second one.

     We have until late this fall and early winter to make something happen, which is not much time. We want to make sure future generations are able to learn about this part of our maritime heritage and will look back 100 years from now and say that our ancestors had the thoughtfulness to save this part of our history. We feel that with this station being only one of five still standing in the nation of this type that it is worth saving and restoring.

     Donations to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy are tax deductible, we are an approved 501(c)3 organization. You may send donations to us at P.O. Box 973, Fenton, MI. 48430. Please mark them as Tawas Fund. You may call us for any questions at 810-750-9236. Please help us now, thank you.

     We hope to restore the station back to this picture below. Also see our individual station page on this station.

We hope the original glory of this architectural style can be saved and restored for future generations. Please help us. If you know of anyone or corporation that could donate money please ask them, or call us at 810-750-9236 and have us ask them.


June 30th, 2004 Update: We are currently talking with the purchaser of the property and working out possible details of the station and some grounds still on the original site to be donated to the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy for preservation. This is an outstanding possibility. We will know more at the end of July. We hope we can work out a deal to keep the entire station intact and in place without moving it. More details will follow and we will keep all of you waiting on updates posted of our progress. As it stands right now, things seem very positive.

The former US Life Saving/US Coast Guard Station located in Tawas, Michigan is up for sale. The asking price has been reduced from $750,000 to $500,000. The Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy (MLC) is interested in saving this property from the demolition block. The property has no historic preservation covenants on it. It is one of only a very few 1876 stick style life saving station architectural styles left in Michigan and throughout the country. The site comes as is and is available to be demolished or whatever anyone wants to do with it. Although the building has been severely modified over the years we still think it is worth saving.

As of June 7th, 2004, we have received an update on this property sale. An offer has been made and accepted by a prospective buyer. The real estate agent working with the buyer has received a quote on bull-dozing the building down after they take possession of the property. This is very unfortunate and we are very concerned. A few situations exist. We can talk to the purchaser if the sale goes through to completion and ask if they will give us (aka donate) the 1876 portion of the station so we may attempt to move it to a vacant lot within a reasonable distance. It is very unfortunate that this station and building have stood watch and protected and saved so many lives from storm and shipwreck that we can not save and restore this building. In our modern day throw away society we fail to preserve our past for future generations.

If anyone is interested in helping us save this station the time to act is now, not tomorrow, but now. We do not have any time left. We will keep this page updated as to the status of the pending sale. If there is anything anyone can offer us, especially in the way of financial support we need it. We will also work with anyone on an individual basis who may want to purchase this property in an effort to save it. We can work with you after the sale to put a historic covenant on the deed so it transfers forward into the future so that the station would never be demolished.

The station has 350 foot of lake frontage. It is in a family trust right now. All heating, septic, appliances, etc. are intact and in working condition. Without a historic preservation covenant attached to it, we are almost certainly going to lose this station if a preservationist or nonprofit organization does not get their hands on it. As most people know, the original life saving service 1876 stick style boat house part of the station is still there, but has been modified over the years. We have been to the site and you can still make out the details on the building even though it has been added onto numerous times. As most of these stations in the past were torn down, we don't want to lose this one either. We can provide historical information on the details of woodwork, etc. for anyone interested in restoring it.

The Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy  will try and acquire the property for our nonprofit, but it sounds like highest bidder will acquire it. The history behind the station is that a guy named Small, back in the late 1800's told the life saving service they could build a station on his land and use it for as long as they saw fit. If it ever stopped being used for life saving purposes, then it would revert back to the family. Well, it is now in the family hands and they are selling it.

MLC was assured by the government a while back that the building would be historically protected, and now that is not the case. This station is on the DOOMSDAY LIST and looks like it will not have a future much longer. If you wish to help save this station please contact us immediately by e-mail or via telephone (810) 750-9236. Help save this station as an important part of our maritime heritage.

MLC is dedicated to lighthouse AND life saving station preservation. Immediate donations are being accepted. Please mail them to the following address marked as follows:

Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy

Tawas Fund

P.O. Box 973

Fenton, MI. 48430


We need to do something now so we have a chance. Please help. If the building is sale goes through without MLC getting it., you may have your donation returned or have MLC keep it to use on other lighthouse or life saving station preservation projects which are desperately needed such as for the Vermillion Life Saving Station or numerous other light stations in Michigan.

More history from the local historic society is mentioned below.

 From the Iosco County Historical Museum Archives
(written while new station was being constructed)

Station Tawas is located 3 miles NE of US 23 on Lakeview Dr. on 2.3 acres. Station was built in 1876 and expanded in 1936. It has been modified several times since it was first built. The over-water boathouse was built in 1939 on the bay side of the point, and was equipped with manual hoist capable of housing a 36 foot motor life boat (MLB) and is 1/2 Mile from the station on 5.9 acres of Coast Guard property. This boathouse is the fourth boathouse. The original boathouse was located at the main building and is the recreation area (Rec Deck) today. The second was the shops at the station and the third was on the bay side. It was built in 1910 and was replaced by the current structure in 1919. The station is the oldest in the District, and the only surviving example of the first series of life saving stations on the Great Lakes. 

The stations area of responsibility includes 3611 square miles, the largest area assigned to any single station in the district. The station is busy with 140-160 cases annually from 15 May to 15 Sept. The boats assigned to the station are a 44 foot motor lifeboat, a 22 foot utility boat, and a 14 foot ice skiff. The crew at present consists of 17 men and women with a Boatswain Mate Chief (E-7) as officer in charge. The old 44 foot motor life boat has now been replaced by a new 47 foot motor life boat.

Station Tawas was first called Ottawa Point. The name was changed on July 1, 1902. The station was also nicknamed Near Light Lake Huron. The first keeper of the station was George Haskin and the latest keeper is BMC Robert H. Moore. The new station is being built on 5.9 acres and the property is located by the present boat house. The new station is a modern flat century station. This new station will cut down on the response time to get to the boat, warm the boat and getting it underway. The new station will be able to take care of many missions including, but not limited to Law Enforcement, Marine Safety Support and Search and Rescue, making it a true multi-mission station.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/31/08.