PASCAGOULA -- The Round Island Lighthouse, rescued from the Mississippi Sound in pieces after Hurricane Katrina, is completely rebuilt and opens for tours Friday at its new location on U.S. 90.
The ceremony is at 4 p.m.
Afterwards, at dusk, they will light the lantern for the first time in decades.
"I think it's going to be really cool," said Liz Ford, head of the city's Historic Preservation Committee. "I have to admit, it's in a good location. It makes a statement as you enter the city."
From 4-6 p.m. people will be allowed up the central staircase in small groups to see the lantern room and look out the glass windows that surround it.
Thereafter, the city plans to have it open for guided tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The new lantern boasts a reproduction of its original Fresnel lens, fourth degree, which denotes focal length. It was recreated by a company on the East Coast, city officials said.
The lens will deliver a focused, fixed light that will not rotate, to make sure traffic coming over the U.S. 90 high-rise bridge will not be affected.
The city plans to burn the light every night, not just on special occasions.
Built and rebuilt
The original lighthouse on Round Island was built in 1833 for $5,900. It was destroyed and another constructed in 1859.
Decommissioned as a lighthouse in 1944, it was officially taken out of service in 1954, but it stood as a landmark for years on the eastern tip of Round Island, four miles south of the city and the mouth of the Pascagoula River.
There was a constant struggle to keep the island from washing away from it. Hurricane Georges toppled it in 1998, and Hurricane Katrina ended efforts to rebuild it on the island in 2005. Pieces of it were fished from the Sound and stored until 2010, when the city moved it to the foot of the U.S. 90 bridge and created the Lighthouse Park.
The reconstruction cost $1.49 million. FEMA granted $400,000 and Mississippi Department of Archives and History granted $250,000. Community Development Block Grants came to $180,600. Mississippi Tidelands grants totalled $254,500.
The city gave $60,000, and the remaining $340,000 came from private donations -- everything from T-shirt sales to large corporate donations.
The city rebuilt it in phases.
It was whitewashed to reflect the look it had on the island in the 1960s and 1970s.
The brickwork at the top of the structure, just under the lantern, is called corble. And the lantern sits on a circular base of Brazilian soap stone, cut especially for the project.
Pieces of the 6,000-pound, cast-iron lantern gallery, hauled from the Sound, were restored locally by Precision Products machine shop. The shop recreated any pieces that were missing using architectural drawings.
The city held a topping ceremony in May 2013 that marked the end of the exterior restoration.
You can still help
Sponsorship opportunities are still available, and the money goes toward maintaining the structure and park.
The city is selling keepsake tiles for $12, which includes a remnant brick from the 1859 lighthouse. Inscribed pieces to be placed at the lighthouse start at $50 and go to $500.
Contact Beth Meyer at 938-6639.