PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - After 15 years of renovation, the Round Island Lighthouse will finally be open to the public on Nov. 13 in Pascagoula.
A ceremony at 4 p.m. will commemorate the occasion and afterward, the lighthouse will be lit up at sunset and opened for tours.
Regular tours will be offered in the following weeks once staffing is secured. Guided tours will take place on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission will be $2 for adults and $1 for children. Group rates will also be available. Money from the tours will go back to fund the lighthouse.
"We are ecstatic that the Round Island Lighthouse will once again serve as a beacon to Pascagoula," said Jen Dearman, the city's community and economic development director. "The restoration is the result of the hard work of many dedicated people."
Originally constructed on Round Island in 1859, the lighthouse was in operation until 1944 and was officially taken out of service in 1954. The lighthouse was destroyed in 1998 when Hurricane George came through. Restoration to repair it was still underway when Hurricane Katrina caused further damage to what was left of the lighthouse.
In 2010, the base of the lighthouse was transported to a parcel of public land at the food of the Pascagoula River Bridge, and restoration efforts began with funding from FEMA, MDAH, CDBG, Tidelands, and donations.
A topping ceremony was held by the City of Pascagoula in May 2013 to mark the end of the exterior restoration effort. Phase IV, which includes the landscape design and paving, is nearing completion now.
The lighthouse restoration project has garnered a Mississippi Heritage Trust Award of Merit for Preservation Media, as well as awards at the state and national levels of the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available for those who are interested. Keepsake tiles cost can be purchased for $12 and include a remnant brick from the original 1859 lighthouse. Inscribed pieces to be placed at the lighthouse start at $50 and go up to $2,500.
The Round Island Lighthouse top sponsor is the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area. All sponsorship dollars go to the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society and will be used toward ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
For more information, contact grants administrator Beth Meyer at (228) 938-6639.