Since 2006, QEA has guided the ongoing restoration of the entire Light Station as an interpretive site.

Marking the junction of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan and one of the first on the Great Lakes. With the tower now safe for visitors and restored to its historic appearance, St. Clair County and the Port Huron Museum have achieved their objective of reopening the light station to the public. The site is now an active and popular maritime history museum which is generating revenue to fund future restoration of the site.


  • Created historic structures report
  • Restored lighthouse masonry facade
  • Seven-building complex, constructed from 1829 to 1939
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places


  • 2014 Building Award, Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Heritage Planning

QEA prepared a Historic Structures Report for the station’s buildings and landscape, pairing intensive historical research and a thorough assessment of existing conditions to produce recommendations for restoring the historic character of the site while providing for visitor amenities. This HSR has been used as a model by staff of both the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service.

Innovative Preservation

The light station underwent a complete exterior restoration including the complete removal and replacement of the outer two wyths of exterior brick. Through years of freeze-thaw cycles and maintenance lapses, the masonry was deteriorated beyond repair. As a way to precisely document the irregularities and taper of the towers masonry prior to the major restoration work, laser scanning was used to capture the exact physical geometry of the tower and convert it into a three-dimensional computer model for documentation. The model served as a source for accurate material take-offs, a guide to engineer shoring for construction, provided an understanding of the wall thickness, and as a record for the property which had no current as-build drawings of the site.