Cana Island Restoration Project

Cana Island Lighthouse Historic PhotoCana Island Restoration Project

Illuminate Our Heritage
The Cana Island Restoration Project is an on-going process of restoring Cana Island Lighthouse to ensure she stands tall for generations to come.

In 2009, the Museum, Door County Parks Department, and a Historic Structures Report project team identified basic flaws in the buildings that hindered access by the public and  limited interpretation. A four-phase action plan was laid out to preserve and protect Cana Island for future generations, and add to the island facilities.


Cana Island Groundbreaking July 17, 2019

We are now completing Phase 3 of the Restoration Project, with a new welcome & interpretive center on Cana Island opening summer 2020. The new facility will include exhibit space, museum shop and admissions office. Representatives from the Door County, the Maritime Museum and Immel Construction gathered on Cana Island on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new facility. 

Since 1970, under lease from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society has maintained the light station at Cana Island and adjacent grounds. The 1869 resources of the island and light station are irreplaceable; a truly unique setting and experience for visitors.

Phase 1 of the Restoration Project has been completed and included new restroom facilities and a maintenance building; a parking lot; repair to the copper roof; repainting of the tower; repaired masonry on the tower and keeper’s house; restoration of windows and doors; and many other updates.

Phase 2 was completed in 2017 and included restoring the out buildings including the oil house, privy and barn.

Phase 3 will be completed in Summer 2020.

Phase 4 is scheduled to start after Phase 3 fundraising and construction are complete. Phase 4 will restore the interior of the keeper’s quarters ($1,000,000).

 Your contribution will help make great improvements in preserving the Cana Island Lighthouse for generations to come.

Cana Island Lighthouse Construction

What We Have Accomplished So Far…

2012– Restroom Facilities and maintenance building erected (cost of $300,000)

2013– Land Acquisition and parking lot construction for safe improved access (cost of $1.5 million)

2014– Baileys Harbor native and landscape architecht, William H. Tishler, began field and archival research on a Cultural Landscape Report outlining a management strategy for each significant landscape component (gardens, tree, stone walls and an archway) that graced Cana Island Light Station during the historic period of 1918-1939 (cost of $10,000)

2014 to 2015– Restoration of the entire exterior of the light tower and keeper’s dwelling, to include: (cost of $984,000)
–The copper roof was repaired on light tower
–The lantern glass was replaced with laminated UV blocking glass to protect the original 3rd Order Fresnel lens
–The lead paint on the light tower was removed and the tower repainted
–All masonry on the tower and keeper’s house was inspected and repaired with more than 1,000 bricks being replaced with historical brick
–Significant carpentry work was done in the keeper’s house to restore/rebuild all windows and doors
–The modern asphalt shingle roof and aluminum gutters on the keeper’s house were removed and replaced with historically correct wood shake shingles and copper gutters
–The sidewalk was replaced and ADA compliant access created
–Landscape around the foundation was completed


The restoration of the oil house, privy and barn was completed in 2017 and included the following:

Although this list appears long, it’s just an overview. The construction documents total more than 320 pages plus the 15 full drawings and many detail drawings that were used to complete this part of the Cana Island Light Station project          .

Eleven separate construction trades brought their skills to the project. The excavation, concrete, masonry, carpentry, electrical, metal smithing, plastering, painting, hazardous material removal specialists and landscaping trades all were involved.

A house moving company was hired to move the barn off of what was left of the old foundation and then, once the new foundation was completed, move it back.

The oil house built in May 1890 is unique to Cana, being of hexagon design and constructed of native limestone.

  • Replaced the metal roof
  • Repaired or replaced all exterior wood trim
  • Remove metal cladding from door and restored the door, door frame and threshold
  • Restored the vent system that was not functioning
  • The lead paint from stone work was professionally removed
  • Inspected and repaired all stone masonry, tuck pointing all joints
  • Ran electricity into the building
  • Painted all the exterior wood and lime washed all stone
  • Removed the wallboard and repaired the plaster walls
  • Repaired the ceiling structure and installed new plaster ceiling
  • Repaired and leveled the floor
  • Painted all plaster surfaces and sealed the floor


The new brick privy was built in October 1906 replacing a wooden structure situated near and to the east of the Keeper’s dwelling. 

  • Removed the modern roof, repaired the roof sheathing and install period correct shingles
  • Removed and replaced the wood vent stack and installed a varmint screen
  • Repaired or replaced all wood trim
  • Repaired all brick masonry, tuck pointing all joints
  • Repaired and restored the window
  • Restored the door frame and threshold and replaced the door with a replica
  • Removed the modern  pit cover and installed a new cover fabricated in the original style
  • Painted all exterior wood
  • Removed all existing plaster and replaced
  • Removed the modern sheet goods and plywood on floor and rebuilt with period correct material
  • Painted all plaster surfaces and trim, clear finished the floor and painted the fixtures


This building has been a barn, storage shed (including a coal bunker) workshop and at one point a residence for the keeper’s father. The exact date of its construction is not known, however it existed prior to 1906 as the sidewalk leading to it was installed that year.

  • Picked up the barn moved it, rebuilt the crumbling foundation and then moved the barn back and set it on the new foundation with rubble stone face
  • Inspected, repaired  and replaced the wall boards and battens
  • Restored doors and windows and associated framing and trim
  • Inspected, repaired  and replaced roof sheathing boards
  • Removed rolled ridge cap, restored and reinstalled it
  • Installed period correct roof shingling
  • Painted all exposed wood except the roof shingles
  • Ran electricity into the building
  • Repaired and replaced the floor boards
  • The lead paint from the interior was professionally removed
  • Cleaned all remaining interior surfaces
  • Repainted all of the interior that was originally painted