Hope shines for lighthouse fix-up project
By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch
The Toledo Blade
Published July 5, 2006
A beam of hope has been cast on the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse.
The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society's application
for ownership of the lighthouse has taken a significant
"Getting sent forward to the U.S. Department of
Interior is a huge step - it's like winning the lottery
or bingo," said Sandy Bihn, the society's chairman.
Once the lighthouse's deed is transferred from the U.S.
Coast Guard to the nonprofit organization, the society
can more aggressively begin its fund-raising campaign
for a lighthouse preservation and renovation project,
Ms. Bihn estimates that the restoration project will
cost about $1 million.
The final application was submitted to the National Park
Service in February and soon will be sent to Secretary
of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, according to Rebecca
Kumar, an architectural historian for the park service
and the lead person on this particular application.
"I'm sure it will be approved," Ms. Kumar said.
"We feel that financially [the society] will be able
to care for it, and they submitted an excellent application."
The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of
2000 provides a mechanism for the disposal of federally
owned historic light stations.
"With the way the ships work today, they don't need
lights to point them the way they need to go," said
Brain Hoth, petty officer first class in the Coast Guard's
external affairs department.
If the Coast Guard no longer has a use for a lighthouse,
it transfers the lighthouse's deed to the General Services
Administration, which disposes of a few lighthouses each
Through this preservation act, historic lighthouses are
only conveyed to entities that will use them for educational,
cultural, or historical purposes.
If the application is not approved, the GSA may then
sell the property.
The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse is the first lighthouse
in Ohio to be recommended for conveyance under the act.
While the society would be responsible for the building's
restoration and maintenance, the Coast Guard would still
maintain some control over its operation because the lighthouse
is still an active aid to navigation.
The lighthouse is about seven miles off shore at the
western end of Lake Erie at the entrance to Maumee Bay
and the Toledo shipping channel.
The 69-foot tall, 4,000-square-foot lighthouse is steel
framed and has cast-iron cornices. Its steel roof is designed
like the hull of an upside down ship.
"It's a wonderful example of a Romanesque-style
structure," said Steven Shrake, the project manager
for Dicket Porter Associates, the architectural firm that
has helped formulate design plans.
Under the planned renovation project, the society will
replace the brick-filled windows with their original fixtures
and it will paint the interior, replace doors, and update
the structure's sewer, water, and electrical systems.
The first floor will house a museum; the second floor
will be for education, research, and public outreach,
and the third floor will focus on boater safety and emergency
The society received a $10,000 grant on June 7 from the
Lake Erie Protection Fund to build an access dock and
a ramp for the lighthouse.
The society will celebrate the lighthouse's 102nd year
with a festival that starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
at Maumee Bay State Park.
Among the events will be sand-sculpting, photo, and clam
chowder contests; magicians; a silent auction, and music.
Fireworks are scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Saturday. The festival
ends at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is free. Boat rides around the lighthouse will
Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch