Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

5117 4TH AVE

Architecture and History Inventory
5117 4TH AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Kenosha Light Station (U.S. Coast Guard)
Other Name:Southport Lighthouse
Contributing:
Reference Number:9463
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):5117 4TH AVE
County:Kenosha
City:Kenosha
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1866
Additions:
Survey Date:1982
Historic Use:light house
Architectural Style:Gabled Ell
Structural System:
Wall Material:Cream Brick
Architect:
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Kenosha Light Station
National Register Listing Date:6/28/1990 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:5/31/1990 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. STONE LINTELS AND SILLS. 2 STORY PORCH IN ELL. 3 STORY TAPERED ROUND LIGHT TOWER OF BRICK W/1866 IN LINTEL.


A sentinel on a lakeside bluff, the Kenosha lighthouse guided ships into port for almost forty years. The cream-brick tower rises fifty-five feet from a stone base, its tapering walls ending in a corbeled sawtooth cornice. An iron deck and railing ring the recently reconstructed lantern. Inside the tower, a dramatic cast-iron staircase (with diamond-pattern treads, open-arch risers, and fleur-de-lis brackets) spirals around a central post, providing access to the lantern and its fourth-order Fresnel lens. The keeper lived in the adjacent cream-brick, Greek Revival house.

Lighthouse-building was part of a failed campaign to make Kenosha a major port, but Chicago, Milwaukee, and Racine offered superior harbors and railroad connections. Nevertheless, from the 1830s to the 1880s, local residents and federal agencies poured money into improving of Kenosha’s harbor facilities, including its lighthouses. In 1840 they replaced a makeshift structure with a more substantial one, superseded by a new lighthouse on Simmons Island in 1848. Finally, in 1866 the federal Lighthouse Board erected the present tower, as part of its effort to create a comprehensive, nationwide network of navigational aids. This lighthouse was too far from the harbor, as pierhead beacons served ships much better. Although the Lighthouse Board removed the beacon in 1903, the tower sent storm warning signals until 1953.
Bibliographic References:KENOSHA NEWS 10/17/1995. KENOSHA NEWS 10/9/1996. The Midweek Bulletin, 5/29/1990, p. 4. Kenosha News 2/17/2000. Kenosha News 6/13/2002. Kenosha News 5/23/2004. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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