Conference Stories | Plum Island Life-Saving and Light Station – Door County, WI

The following excerpt was presented by the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation at the 2013 Local History and Historic Preservation Conference in early October. This excerpt is the eighth and final post in a series of stories we have published to the WTHP blog over the last month. Please check back in our archives for more. You can find the whole series here.


Plum Island is located halfway between Washington Island and the tip of Door County in the Port des Morts passage. In 1848, the 325-acre island was reserved from the public domain for lighthouse purposes. In 1896, Congress authorized funds to construct a new keeper’s quarters, range lights, fog signal building, and life-saving station on Plum Island. The Coast Guard operated the facilities on the island until 1990. In 2007, the island was transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Friends of Plum and Pilot Island (FOPPI) was established to provide stewardship for the island’s architectural resources. The entire island was listed as a National Register Historic District in 2010.

This past summer, FOPPI restored the life-saving station’s nearly collapsed front porch. Other work in progress includes an engineering study of the dock, the break wall, and the boathouse. This study was funded by a Wisconsin Coastal Management grant with an in-kind match from FOPPI. FOPPI also received a grant to hire a strategic planning consultant to assist with the establishment of a five-year plan of action. A special ceremony is planned for Spring 2014, when Plum Island is opened to the public for the first time.