A Warm Welcome From the North Manitou Light Keepers
North Manitou Light Keepers (“NMLK”) is a team of stewards dedicated to rehabilitating, maintaining, and appreciating the North Manitou Shoal Light in Leelanau County, Michigan. This offshore lighthouse, known locally as “The Crib” due to its design, is a wonderful piece of Lake Michigan maritime history. It sits amidst the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Manitou Islands, in the middle of some of America’s most beautiful landscape.
The Crib houses currently active navigational equipment maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Since 1980 when its navigational equipment was automated, however, the structure of the lighthouse has remained empty and lightly maintained. A meaningful restoration of the lighthouse structure is necessary to stop its further deterioration, make it “pretty” again, and make it available to the public for viewing and appreciation.
In the summer of 2016, the U.S. General Services Administration opened an auction to sell the North Manitou Shoal Light. Upon hearing this news, four families of dreamers and doers rallied together to bid on and win the auction for the lighthouse. Daniel and Anna Oginsky, Dave and Sherry McWilliam, Todd and Natalie Buckley, and Jake and Suzanne Kaberle founded NMLK, with the goal of acquiring The Crib and completing its restoration and opening it to the public by July 4, 2021. Officially, NMLK was established on August 16, 2016 as a Michigan non-profit corporation named North Manitou Light Keepers, Inc. NMLK is managed by its board of directors, who are Daniel Oginsky (President), Anna Oginsky, Dave McWilliam, Todd Buckley, and Jake Kaberle.
After winning the public auction for the North Manitou Shoal Light, NMLK received official notification from the U.S. General Services Administration that its bid was accepted on September 28, 2016. NMLK is in the process of completing its acquisition of The Crib. We first must receive approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to occupy the “bottomlands” (at the bottom of Lake Michigan) on which The Crib sits. Our application was filed on October 24, 2016, and we hope to complete this process in early 2017.
In the meantime, NMLK is investigating and drafting a plan to complete restoration of the lighthouse. We also are excited to engage with members of the local community, lighthouse enthusiasts, Michigan and Great Lakes historians, former lightkeepers, and others to build a community of support and stewardship around this icon of the Great Lakes and jewel of the Leelanau community. We will be sharing more information in the coming months on our progress, plans, efforts and events!