A restoration project at Presque Isle State Park, funded by an Erie couple will soon tell the story of Erie’s growth in the early 1900’s.
If you’ve visited Presque Isle State Park chances are you’ve seen an intake tower that many mistake for a lighthouse. But, the 111-year-old tower is ready for a facelift. Local contractors torch the bottom of the emergency intake tower in the ferry slip at Presque Isle State Park. This yellow, weathered tower has been in place since 1906, owned by Erie Water Works, once used to pull water from the bay as a back-up for the regular system.
Now, the intake tower is loaded up on a barge, headed to Donjon Ship Building for restoration. It was an idea developed by Dan and Sallie Shipley, funded by the couple’s charitable fund. The Shipleys’ friend, Peter Alex, took the reigns, hiring several local contractors and reaching out to the parties involved.
Peter Alex, Owner of Alex Roofing Company, says, “we had to put all the pieces together before we even got to this point… there’s photographs/memorabilia that we are looking at to make sure it goes back as close to its original shape and form as possible”.
Once the tower makes it to Donjon, the process begins on returning the facade back to its original look. The final spot for the tower on the Water Works ferry dock has yet to be decided but a plan is in the works to make it yet another spot for tourists to learn more about the history of Presque Isle.
Matt Greene, Park Manager, says, “people have seen this thing for many, many years not really knowing what it is so we are going to be able to tell that story. People always say, ‘oh the lighthouse,’ but it never was a lighthouse it was actually a functional part of the water system for Erie”.
That unique history is what intrigued the Shipleys. The couple grew up in Erie, but now live out of town in the winter months. Greene said they wanted this restoration project because it’s an important part of the park’s history.
You can look for the new tower and exhibit on the grounds at Water Works early next summer.