It only takes 78 steps to get to the top of the Historic Port Isabel Lighthouse. But, for the moment, it’s off limits, as renovation at the site continues.

“We’re looking at a very, very late July till late August completion,” said Valerie Bates, the City of Port Isabel marketing director.

The renovation was scheduled to be complete in February, but Bates said, “There’s still a few things to fulfill on their punch list.”

Restoring history isn’t fast or easy, especially on a structure built more than 160 years ago. Since October, scaffolding has surrounded the lighthouse as Texas Parks and Wildlife works to restore some of its old glory.

The lighthouse square is a state park and different from others along the Texas Coast. “What makes ours more unusual is the idea that you can visit this lighthouse and walk up the stairs to the inside and see the very same view that lighthouse keepers saw for decades,” explained Bates.

Thousands visit every year to enjoy the view. “The view from the top gives you a 60-mile radius, so you can see the Laguna Madre Bay, South Padre Island, the Brazos-Santiago Pass, beyond that the Gulf of Mexico and over to the Brownsville ship channel. It’s a beautiful view,” said Bates. “There’s nothing else like it in the Rio Grande Valley or Texas.”

While the lighthouse is closed for renovation, the rest of the square is open for business. “We have a variety of shops around the lighthouse and attractions and activities and restaurants and night spots. And next to the lighthouse on the lighthouse grounds is the lighthouse Keepers Cottage, which is home to the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. And it’s also our Visitors Center.”