Historian to discuss Fresnel lenses at art center.

June 1, 2015

LUDINGTON — Renowned maritime historian Terry Pepper will present an entertaining presentation entitled “Jewel in the Sand,” focusing on Augustine Fresnel, the man and his invention.   The Fresnel lenses saved thousands of lives and exist today as works of art. The presentation is sponsored by Mason County Historical Society and various partners, and takes place on Saturday, June 6, at 7 p.m. in the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, 107 S. Harrison Street in Ludington, in the LACA Performance Hall.

“Pepper takes his audience on a light-hearted voyage of discovery through the history lighthouse illumination to discover why Fresnel’s work was not only critical to 19th century maritime safety and the industrialization of our country, but also still guides us on sea, land, air, and even into space,” said Historic White Pine Village operations manager Carmen Tiffany.

Mason County is fortunate to have two Fresnel lenses, a third-order lens from the Big Sable Point lighthouse, and a fourth-order lens from the Ludington North Breakwater lighthouse. These lenses will be restored to their original beauty and featured in the new Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, slated to open in the summer of 2016.

“There can be no doubt that Augustine Fresnel’s name is forever linked with lighthouse illumination,” said Pepper, who is the executive director for the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association.  Recognized as one of the foremost authorities on Great Lakes lighthouse history, Pepper’s writing and photography have been published in numerous books, magazines and maritime history periodicals. He speaks on lighthouse history and preservation throughout the Great Lakes, and is well known for his spirited and humorous interpretation of the stories of the men and women who served to protect mariners as they navigated their way around the treacherous lakes.

The event is a collaborative effort of three of Mason County’s non-profit organizations-the Mason County Historical Society, which is in the process of renovating Ludington’s historic Coast Guard Station into the new Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association, which is the steward of four beautifully restored lighthouses along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, which brings art and cultural opportunities to the public.

“The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association is excited to join with MCHS’s Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and the Ludington Area Center for the Arts to welcome Terry Pepper,” said Peter Manting, executive director for the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association. “Come enjoy his presentation which will be full of humor and interesting facts. You will leave the presentation with a better understanding of the lenses that illuminated our shores and a love for the towers that housed these lights,” he adds.

Corinn VanWyck, executive director for LACA, is pleased that the three organizations have worked together to bring this lecture to Ludington. “The Ludington Area Center for the Arts is a non-profit community arts organization that cultivates access to and advocacy for the arts and culture in West Michigan.”

The Mason County Historical Society’s new executive director, Dr. Rick Plummer, encourages all to come and learn about the history of the maritime industry and the devices which were used to keep scores of mariners safe. “MCHS is committed to making history come alive, and this presentation will defiantly do that in exciting ways,” Plummer says.

Admission for historian Terry Pepper’s “Jewel in the Sand” presentation is a suggested donation of $5.00 for adults and free to children 12 and under.  Tickets are available at the door.

For more information, contact the Mason County Historical Society at 231-843-4808.

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