To begin with, let me take you on a tour of the Mendota Lighthouse reservation. We have spent many years and hundreds of hours documenting Mendota. Several trips to and searches in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. have yielded everything from the original drawings for the lighthouse and outbuildings to the original sketch of the proposed reservation done in 1893. You are looking at it right now.
This place has remained unchanged since 1895. The original boathouse built in 1903 is here and in excellent condition. Originally it had a red tin roof. The entire structure has been repainted and it now has a red tin roof like it did in the past. The boathouse is home to some friendly bats and we have a policy that we won't bother them if they don't bother us. They do make a mess however, but I figure they were there before me.
The barn is two stories and a building I really enjoy. When we were first given the keys to Mendota, we went exploring and an image I will never forget is walking up the stairs in the barn to the second level and seeing a child's swing hanging from the main rafters. This is where the Jilbert children played during the winter. Also on the second floor was much of the original furniture and most of it we are restoring for use in the lighthouse once again.
The roof of the barn still has its original red tin roof. We'll get new tin shingles for the barn, but I think we'll leave the original roof on until it causes problems. Why fix it if it isn't broken?
The privy is just great. It was built in 1895 and features four seats—two adult and two children. With eight children I would imagine this was a requirement.
The oil house built in 1895 is like new. We have had it repainted and restored to its original condition. The original lock in the door still functions.
In looking around the lighthouse we found an incinerator out back that looked like it was built by the previous owner. What was curious was the smokestack. In our discovery of plans we found a drawing for the original smoke jack on the chimney of Mendota. This was it! So we got rid of the incinerator and put the smoke jack back up on the chimney.
The 110 concrete blocks laid in 1907 are still here and there isn't a crack in any of them. Just amazing.
As we walked around the lighthouse we discovered the original cement base for the flagpole and sitting beside it was the decaying remains of the pole made from a cedar tree. We found a tree the same size and height and have restored the flagpole using the original electrical insulator for a pulley at the top. We also had a forty-four star American Flag made since that's how many states there were in 1895.
On the front of the lighthouse we found a National Geodetic Survey brass medallion dated 1895. Obviously this was a critical point of reference in the survey of this area.
Finally, from the tower you get this view of Lake Superior and behind the lighthouse is the most wonderful wilderness you could ever imagine. Eagles, bear, deer and no people!
I hope the Conservancy will be successful in maintaining this environment for the next one hundred years.
We have included some interior pictures of Mendota below; living room, dining room and kitchen below.