Go inside the hidden lighthouse on Detroit's Belle Isle

Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse was named after William Livingstone

DETROIT – The Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse on Detroit's Belle Isle is the only lighthouse structure in North America built from Georgia marble.

The lighthouse is on a part of Belle Isle many have never been. It was designed by Albert Kahn, who we profiled last year.


Uniquely Detroit's Alex Atwell was given a special look inside the historic lighthouse. The feature aired on Live in the D Tuesday. 

Here's more information on the lighthouse from the Detroit Historical Society: 

The Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse was named after William Livingstone of Detroit.  Born in 1844, Livingstone was president of the Dime Bank, owner of the Detroit Evening Journal, and long-time president of the Lake Carriers Association.

In this latter capacity, he was responsible for several important navigational improvements on the Great Lakes, including the creation of a deep water channel in the lower Detroit River which became known as the Livingstone Channel. Following his death in 1925, friends and colleagues rallied to build an appropriate monument in Livingstone’s memory.

Designed by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn, the Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse was located at the head of Belle Isle, facing Lake St. Clair.  It was erected in 1930 by the sculptor Gaza Moroti in the Art Deco style, taking the form of a classical fluted pillar but with additional modern opulence. The 58 foot tall lighthouse was sculpted out of Georgia marble – the only such structure in North America.

It’s bronze and glass lens, originally from the older Belle Isle Lighthouse, generates a 8600-candlepower beacon visible for up to fifteen miles.  The project cost about $100,000 and was funded mostly by citizens of “Old Detroit” – wealthy businessmen and friends of William Livingstone.

The Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse fittingly serves to guide ships along the Detroit River, connecting the works of Livingstone during his life to his enduring memory after his death.  The lighthouse is a shining tribute to one of the most influential men in Detroit shipping history.

Special thanks for DHS, and Historic Detroit.

More photos of the lighthouse below.

About the Authors:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.