Responding to the need for a light to guide ships approaching from the west through the Straits of Mackinac, the Lighthouse Board established a light station at Old Mackinac Point in 1889 and immediately appropriated funds for construction of a fog signal building. At the turning point at the Straits of Mackinac and in the eastern portion of the village of Mackinaw City municipal park, the light station property was visible to ships rounding the point from any direction. Previously a lighthouse at McGulpin's Point (1869) marked in a limited way passage through the Straits.
Congress appropriated $20,000 for construction of a light tower and keepers' dwelling. The Ninth District engineer's office in Detroit issued plans, and John P. Schmitt of Detroit built the lighthouse. Above a coursed limestone foundation, yellow brick rises in the exterior walls of the one-and a-half-story gabled dwelling. An enclosed passage connects the tall light tower to the square castellated tower of the house. The comfortable house with a splendid view of the Straits held living space for the families of both the keeper and assistant keeper within walking distance of the village.
In 1957, when lights and navigation aids placed on the newly opened Mackinac Straits Bridge ( EM21) made the old light station unnecessary, the federal government decommissioned the lighthouse and, one year later, declared it surplus to its needs. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission purchased the property in 1960 and operates it as part of the Michilimackinac State Park. SmithGroup prepared a historic structure report in 2000.