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You just never know what you’ll find when you drive around the Old Mission Peninsula with your camera. On this particular day, I was lucky to find John and Helen Blythe at Mission Point Lighthouse. They were there as part of the Lighthouse Keeper Program, wherein folks from all over can apply to stay at the lighthouse and keep things humming along for the duration of their stay.

Pictured above is Helen and John on the left, with Lighthouse Manager Ginger Schultz and Helen’s sister, Hazel, who was visiting. The Blythes are not new to the Lighthouse Keeper program; they’ve been involved with the program for a while, staying at various lighthouses around the state. They’re lovely people, and both said they really enjoy their time helping out at lighthouses.

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Being a lighthouse keeper is a wonderful volunteer opportunity for folks to stay in the actual lighthouse and share their time and talents. On the lighthouse grounds and in the gift shop, keepers meet and talk with visitors from all over the world. There may also be a bit of landscaping, which John dug into with gusto.

john blythe, lighthouse keepers, mission point lighthouse
John Blythe, Mission Point Lighthouse Keeper | Jane Boursaw Photo

Lighthouse Keepers play a key role in helping to keep this treasured piece of Michigan maritime history alive. While the responsibilities are not difficult, keepers do need to be able to climb the 37 steps to the tower to clean the windows and to sweep and vacuum daily.

Keepers are also expected to perform very simple ground maintenance on the lighthouse property only (not mowing); light housekeeping and if time permits, a choice of maintenance projects (painting, minor repairs, etc.). Keepers also encourage and maintain visitation records, and help with inventory maintenance and similar retail duties.

For more information on the Lighthouse Keeper Program, click here. You may also email Lighthouse Manager Ginger Schultz at [email protected] or call (231) 645-0759.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. My uncle, Edward Andrus, was the Old Mission Lighthouse keeper in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s. I remember many wonderful days spent visiting. When I was little he used to let me take people up into the light tower for a tour, he’d give me a nickel for being the tour guide. The beach bonfires were memorable. He painted a sign that hang over the entrance to the sidewalk for years, I saw it later in an antique shop.


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