In 1871 a white painted timber light tower was built at the end of the wooden breakwater. In 1886 a storm washed away the light tower, and other storms damaged the wooden breakwater. The breakwater was eventually replaced with stone and concrete, and in 1904 the present lighthouse structure was built. It had a oil vapor lamp with a 5th order Fresnel lens. In 1933 electric was run out to the light house and an electric lamp replaced the oil lamp.
The lighthouse still operates and is maintained by the US Coast Guard. It is automated and unmanned, and the Coast Guard was considering removing the walkway because it was no longer necessary and expensive to maintain. Concerned citizens of Michigan City launched a successful effort to keep the walkway. The Coast Guard donated the walkway to the city in 1991.