Restoring Lighthouse Keepers’ House Carries $1M Price Tag

Renovations to the former lighthouse keepers’ dwelling in St. Joseph on North Pier Street to get it fully restored will be expensive. City Manager John Hodgson gave an update to the city commission on the possible purchase of the home by the city from the federal government, putting the price tag at around $1 million over the course of several years above and beyond any purchase price. He says the city does have experience now in renovating old structures with the lighthouses, but this is different.

“The lighthouses themselves were really simple, as they’re really, for the most part, bare steel structures,” Hodgson said. “Now we’ve got something with interior finishes, that has kitchens, bathrooms, and trying to recreate what that would be.”

The estimate includes a 40% allowance above the estimated cost of individual work items as an allowance for contractor general conditions, overhead and profit, and design and construction contingencies. Mayor Mike Garey, who himself is a roofer, said the estimates are realistic with the understanding it’s an historic building.

“We’ll be doing our due diligence because it’s an historic structure, and with those buildings, unfortunately, once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

Immediate work is estimated at $115,000 and includes localized roof repairs, demolition of deteriorated interior items, replacing the boiler and three radiators, and resolving the issue of water in the basement. No decision has been made to purchase the vacant building, and the federal government hasn’t come up with a sales price.