- Site Established: 1872
- Current Bldg. Erected: 1934
- Height of Light Structure: 45 ft.
- Focal Plane of Light: 52 ft.
- Active: Yes
- Lens: 250 MMl
- Beacon Visibility: 20 Miles
Historic Significance Score: 2
Upon being settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, Holland, Michigan was established on Lake Macatawa.
Realizing the importance of trade, Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte wrote the federal government on the community’s behalf requesting financial assistance to establish a harbor for the town.
After a string of delays in the anticipated financing to Holland, which helped competing harbors establish themselves first, the work ethic of the settlers pre-empted Washington as they took the project upon themselves and dug through the huge sand bars to establish a harbor in 1859.
After the establishment of a harbor, a lighthouse for navigation was necessary. In 1872 a small wooden light station was established.
But it wasn’t until 1934, that the current “Big Red” came into existence. The lighthouse was encased in metal plates to protect it from the wind, weather and crashing waves.
In 1970, the Coast Guard tried to abandon “Big Red”, seeing the light as surplus.
In 1974, The Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission saved the lighthouse and took over its preservation and restoration.
Majesty Score: 4
Those who visit this light will somewhat find it misnomered. It is not a very large lighthouse at 45 ft. It actually looks even smaller when you view it from Holland Park across the channel. Sometimes I think the nickname might prejudice people and prevent them from enjoying this light.
However, it does have strong character due to its Dutch architecture and fire engine red paint. These factors alone give this light a rating of 4 on majesty.
Water View Score: 3
Holland has a nice water view. Holland, Michigan, is not on Lake Michigan as one would think. It is on Lake Macatawa. This somewhat affects the feel of the water surrounding this light.
Preservation Score: 5
Holland takes very good care of their native light. It is always well painted and maintained. The park across the street is very nice with royal blue painted railings on the pier, which are very common in Michigan, and an abundance of beige, floury sand.
Surrounding Area Score: 4
Holland, Michigan, recognizes their heritage and capitalizes on it! There are many stores and landmarks in town with a Dutch theme. Wood shoes and windmills a specialty!
The big attraction in Holland is their annual May Tulip Festival featuring 6 million tulips!
Holland also features the Dutch Village Theme Park amusement park and Windmill Island which has a 240 year old windmill that was brought in from the Netherlands.
Accessibility Score: 3
For the most part, visitors to the light will have to view it from across the channel at Holland Park. There are special visits where one can get on the same side of the channel as the lighthouse, and be able to touch it, but these visits are regulated because the access is through a private neighborhood. One might want to contact the town to inquire on this access.
Beacon Score: 3
Currently, the light has a 250 MM beacon light that is active in its tower. The original 6th order Fresnel lens is on display at the Holland Museum
Overall Score and Overview: 24
“Big Red” makes a great stop on a lighthouse tour of western Michigan. The tower’s architecture is very unique and makes for great photo op’s.
Also, be sure to enjoy the heritage of the town during your visit!