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Jeffris helping restore Cana Island lighthouse

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 27, 2010
— A Janesville foundation is promising matching funds to restore a well-known Door County lighthouse.

The Jeffris Family Foundation will give $303,412 by June 30, 2013, for a project on Cana Island. For every $2 donated, the foundation will match with $1. Total cost for the second phase is $910,236.


The Jeffris foundation also gave an initial grant of $32,075 to create a Historical Structures Report, which will serve as a blueprint for restoration.


Tom Jeffris is president of the Jeffris Family Foundation, which has a mission to preserve Wisconsin’s history and character.


The foundation has in the past given money to the Villa Louis in Prairie du Chein and the Lincoln-Tallman House in Janesville, for example.


The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society has partnered with Door County to restore the island site, which is part of the county’s park system.


Five buildings remain on Cana Island. They include the keeper’s house and light tower, an oil house, privy and storage shed.


“An isolated setting such as Cana Island, with its grouping of intact structures, offers a rare glimpse into a lost way of life,” said Trudy Herbst, the museum’s director of development.


But the buildings are showing disrepair and, if left unaddressed, will result in the loss of historic integrity, Herbst said.


The project goes beyond restoring the existing buildings.


The goal is to expand the programs and facilities without encroaching on the historic building use and interpretation, she said.


The project would relocate the gift shop from the keeper’s house into a welcome center. Pit toilets would be built and the natural environment and accessibility improved.


“This grant is a critical step in the preservation process,” said Clay Bonin, Door County Maritime Museum’s chairman of the Cana Island Lighthouse Committee. “The research, specifications for restoration and planned maintenance met the litmus tests of the Jeffris Family Foundation. This provides matching donors assurance that we are committed to conform to standards of the National Trust for Preservation and the Wisconsin State Preservation Office. Cana Island deserves nothing less.”



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