On March 3, 1891, almost two years to the day after authorizing the construction of a light station at Old Mackinac Point, the U.S. Congress appropriated $20,000 to build a light tower, keepers’ dwelling, barn, and oil house at the site. These new structures would join Old Mackinac Point’s fog signal station, which had been authorized in 1889 and completed in 1890.
The Lighthouse Board solicited plans for the new lighthouse, which they hoped would be more visible to ships than an older lighthouse some two miles to the west at McGulpin Point. However, they realized that “the cost of constructing the Mackinac Point light will be greatly increased if it must be off sufficient elevation to show to the westward over McGulpin Point and take the place of that light.” As such, the plans selected in June 1891 called for a modest tower with the light mounted up only 50 feet. Although the name of the designer remains unknown, the plans for the new light tower and keepers’ dwelling were unique on the Great Lakes, incorporating decorative battlements and attractive cream-colored brick walls topped by a red metal roof.
Construction at Old Mackinac Point began in March 1892, and the light went into operation in October. The McGulpin Point light station, located on a high bluff, remained in operation until 1906.