A watershed moment occurred in August 2010, when ownership of the Fort Gratiot Light Station transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to St. Clair County. With that transaction St. Clair County became stewards of five acres of lakefront land and six historic buildings, including the Tower, built in 1829, the oldest light in Michigan.
This collection is the repository of Great Lakes history going back to the Northwest Territory days, and its value to the region is just beginning to be understood. The Port Huron Museum and the County Parks Commission have formed a collaboration to rehabilitate and restore the resources, and welcome the public to understand the threads of history revealed there.
There is already a perceptible economic impact: event participation, gift shop sales, increased restaurant revenue. However, the longest-lasting effect is the change in the vocabulary used to describe the community’s waterfront. Lake Huron and the St. Clair River have always been compelling; now the additional value of the historic resources expands that story. It is the story of Michigan, the Great Lake State.