PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Built in 1859, the Round Island Lighthouse stood tall and proud off the coast of Jackson County for 140 years. That came to an end in 1998, when the storm surge from Hurricane Georges washed the lighthouse into the sea. As Doug Walker reports, a new chapter in lighthouse history is about to be written in downtown Pascagoula.
It's a painstaking process, rebuilding a lighthouse. Plans have to be followed to the letter, with special attention paid to historical integrity.
Watching the progress is Melbaleen Lewis.
"I've enjoyed seeing this thing go back up from the beginning and every two or three days I kind of stop by and take a picture," Lewis said. "Because the thing is, you can read about it in the paper and see it on TV. But when you personally walk by and look at it and appreciate the progress and all these men and their hard work to get it back together."
Jen Dearman is overseeing the project for the City of Pascagoula. When the lighthouse is finished, will people come to see it?
"There are groups that do nothing but travel around to see historic lighthouses. We expect an increase in tourism from that angle," Dearman said.
For the construction workers, rebuilding the past is a special privilege. Stephen Fletcher is the job supervisor for the project.
"We are extremely proud to be a part of this project. It's going to be something great for Pascagoula and the Gulf Coast and I think that it's going to look great," Fletcher said.
"What's really amazing about this restoration project of the lighthouse is the attention to detail. The way this lighthouse is being placed on this site in downtown Pascagoula is significant," according to Dearman. "The lighthouse is positioned exactly as it was on Round Island, so the door faces the same angle. The window will be at the same angle. Everything will be identical, just like you picked it up off the island and sat it here in Pascagoula," Dearman said.
And when the lighthouse sits tall once again, it will be a source of pride for another 140 years.
Once complete, the lighthouse will stand about 47 feet tall. Work on the outside should be finished by mid-summer.