Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, and these unique structures have come to symbolize the Great Lake State. The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP), which is funded through the sale of specialty license plates and is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), helps fund the preservation of these iconic structures. The program allows Michigan lighthouse enthusiasts to help preserve these historic places through the purchase of a Save Our Lights license plate, and it provides a funding source to assist lighthouse stewards with preservation projects.
To promote the sale of the plates and to educate lighthouse stewards about the grant program, the SHPO annually produces lighthouse postcards and a lighthouse map, participates in the biennial Michigan Lighthouse Alliance conference, and exhibits at Michigan’s lighthouse festivals. Since 2001 when the plate was first available, the MLAP has awarded nearly $2 million in grants for lighthouse rehabilitation projects.
Two recently completed MLAP grant projects are the St. James Light on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan and the Port Austin Reef Light on Lake Huron. The $60,000 grant for the Beaver Island project assisted in funding the complete rehabilitation of the brick masonry exterior and repainting. For the Port Austin Reef Light, a $20,000 grant helped fund a Historic Structures Report (HSR), which will be used to guide future rehabilitation efforts.
On your next trip to Michigan, pick up a lighthouse map from one of our welcome centers, tour one of our iconic lights, and see how many of the more than 160,000 lighthouse license plates you can spot!