William Livingston Lighthouse
This is the only Art Deco lighthouse in the United States. Designed in 1929 by Albert Kahn’s firm as a tribute to William Livingstone, president of the Lake Carriers Association, the lighthouse is sheathed in white Georgia marble.
Vertical fluting on the shaft draws attention to the top of the tower and the ornament there. At the top of each flute are soaring eagles that seem to be pulling the shaft of the lighthouse even higher.
Ornamental reliefs were designed by Geza Maroti, a Hungarian architect and sculptor brought to Detroit by Eliel Saarinen. This same team of Kahn with Maroti was also responsible for the Fisher Building and the marvelous stencil-work inside.
A stylized Art Deco woman over the entrance door symbolizes humanity overcoming nature. The star, wind, and water all represent sea-faring and navigating. The use of the six-pointed Star of David here as the illustration for a star is an interesting one, for Albert Kahn was Jewish by descent.
The lighthouse is located on Belle Isle – an island park originally designed in the early 1880s by Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of New York City’s Central Park and numerous other notable parks, estates, and landscapes throughout the US. Later it was expanded and today covers 982 acres and measures two-and-one-half miles long by one-half mile wide. The lighthouse is only feet away from Albert Kahn’s Belle Isle Conservatory (1904) and Belle Isle Aquarium (1904).