The Real Racine Visitor Center, 14015 Washington Ave. (Hwy. 20), invites you to a see a detailed diorama of the Wind Point Lighthouse and grounds as it looked back in 1900.

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 diorama was displayed last summer in the Fog Horn Building museum and gift shop that the Friends operated on the Wind Point Lighthouse grounds. It was put into storage after the Village of Wind Point took over the lighthouse tours for 2016.

The Friends of the Wind Point Lighthouse ( 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


Jim Erven (left) and Jim Charnon (right) constructed a detailed diorama of the Wind Point Lighthouse and grounds as it appeared in 1900.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...