William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse
Location Name: William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse (Detroit, Michigan)
Location Type: Lighthouse
Year Completed: 1930
Architect(s): Albert Kahn
The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse sits on the easternmost end of Detroit’s Belle isle Park. A beacon welcoming ships entering the Detroit River from Lake Saint Clair, this Michigan lighthouse is one of few built solely as a memorial rather than an aid to navigation. Built with nearly $100,000 contributed by Detroit residents and the Lake Carriers’ Association; of which the tower’s namesake was president. Livingstone had led the Lake Carriers’ Association (a trade organization who seeks to improve the safety and efficiency of Great Lakes shipping) from 1902 to his death in 1925. Livingstone had played an active role in the creation of shipping channels in the Detroit River. The federal government even named one of these channels in his honor.
Noted architect Albert Kahn was chosen to complete the design for the memorial tower. The Art Deco white marble tower was capped with a bronze lantern and an 11,500 candlepower light. Atop the flutes are small eagles and the front and rear of the tower are adorned with relief panels. All the stone artwork was done by Hungarian artist Geza Maroti. The entire structure rests on an octagonal base and rises to a height of 84 feet. The tower was completed in 1930 and continues to be the only marble lighthouse in the United States.
In 1974 the lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today the tower appears to be in good condition though many of Belle Isle’s attractions are struggling from budget cuts. The end of the island the lighthouse calls home is somewhat off the beaten path for many park visitors. All who choose to walk the trail that leads to the memorial and the easternmost shore are greeted by the impressive column bearing a name that many Detroiters have forgotten as well as beautiful views of the river. While many may have forgotten his name, the view of passing Great Lakes ships will offer evidence of Mr. Livingstone’s efforts to revolutionize waterborne commerce nearly a century ago.
The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.Sources