The diorama was built by Jim Erven and Jim Charnon in the winter of 2014-15 for the Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse. Working from photographs, the duo fashioned the 5-foot by 2-foot model from hand-made wooden blocks, plaster of Paris and bits of sand and pebbles collected from the Lake Michigan shoreline at Wind Point. Erven and Charnon estimate that they put 40 to 60 hours into the project.
The detail is stunning. The two craftsmen created lake waves from the plaster, built a white fence from bits of wood and even included a replica of the concrete pier that served the adjacent brickyard (where the Shoop Park Golf Course is now located).
The lighthouse was already 20 years old at the time depicted by the diorama. It was designed by Orlando Metcalfe Poe, the Engineer Secretary of the federal government’s Lighthouse Board, to warn ships of the dangerous shallow reef off Wind Point. The lighthouse was also needed to guide ships approaching the Racine Harbor – one of the busiest ports on the Great Lakes in the mid-19th century.
The 108-foot Wind Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1880 and first lit in November of that year. Today’s it’s the tallest and oldest working lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
The Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse (http://windpointlighthouse.com) continues in its mission of education and historical preservation. Real Racine is honored to serve as the display host for this glimpse at local history. The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Lighthouse tours are offered on the first Sundays of June through October. Remaining tour dates for this year are August 7, September 4 and October 2. Details at www.windpointlighthouse.org
Jim Erven (left) and Jim Charnon (right) constructed a detailed diorama of the Wind Point Lighthouse and grounds as it appeared in 1900.