BOLIVAR PENINSULA, Texas — A structure that has been known as a beacon on the upper Texas coast since 1872 is set to soon get much-needed repairs.
Current owners of the historic Bolivar Point Lighthouse are working on restoration plans. The lighthouse will turn 150 years old in November 2022.
At 117 feet tall, the lighthouse guided mariners for 61 years before it was decommissioned in 1993.
In June 2022, experts in historic architecture, engineering, masonry, iron works and construction gathered to begin work on the restoration by investigating the foundation and upper lantern, according to a Bolivar Peninsula Lighthouse Facebook post.
HOW YOU CAN HELP | Donate to the Bolivar Point Lighthouse Foundation
The lighthouse has been in Amy Chase's family since 1947, when her great uncle purchased it from the government.
"It's a piece of Texas history that just has to be restored and brought back to her glory and again to be shared with the public,” Chase said.
Chase believes the lighthouse has played a key role in the maritime and commerce industry along the coast.
"It was imperative for this lighthouse to be here, at the mouth of the bay, to bring in ships to one of the largest and busiest ports in Galveston and to bring in ships to Houston, Texas City,” Chase said
The lighthouse been through multiple hurricanes, including Hurricane Ike, and even survived the Texas City Blast. Chase said these happenings have taken a toll on the lighthouse.
"There was more and more deterioration to the top of the lighthouse and to the lighthouse," Chase said. "So in 2015 my cousin, Michael Maxwell, started the Bolivar Point Lighthouse Foundation."
The foundation was founded by Maxwell and Mark Boyt. Boyt and Maxwell are descendants of the first private owners of the Bolivar Point Lighthouse.
The nonprofit was created with the sole purpose of restoring the lighthouse and opening it up to the public for the first time ever.
According to Chase, their first order of business is to raise $150,000 to take the top of the lighthouse down.
"We need to have it rebuilt but completely have the top of the lighthouse removed safely," Chase said.
The lighthouse was added to the Galveston Historical Foundation’s “Heritage at Risk List," in 2019. The list is meant to bring awareness to at-risk historic structures in the county.
The lighthouse was classified as “critical,” is described on the list as “currently in a severe state of deterioration and in need of considerable restoration.”
Chase said the Bolivar Point Lighthouse Foundation is hoping to raise about $5 million for the complete restoration. The restoration will include a change back to the lighthouse's original black and white stripes, a new light and more.
Chase calls the restoration her, "passion project." She cannot wait to open up the lighthouse for people from all around the world to enjoy.
"It's an incredible piece of Texas history that's special to all of us on the peninsula, all of us in the region and Southeast Texas that all have an affinity and a love for this lighthouse," Chase said.