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Published: Friday, 9/13/2013

Open house set for public unveiling of restored Port Clinton lighthouse


PORT CLINTON — The public will get its first peek this weekend at the restored Port Clinton lighthouse, the 117-year-old lighthouse that once guided boaters into the entrance of the Portage River.

A free public open house will be held at Brand’s Marina from 4 to 7 p.m., today, and from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, at the marina’s indoor facility located at 451 W. Lakeshore Drive, Port Clinton. The security gate will be open for public access during those times.

A group of residents calling itself the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy spearheaded the restoration efforts. The group recently received tentative approval from the city to place the restored lighthouse in the Water Works Park north of the Derby Pond.

“We hope to complete the restoration work this winter and move the lighthouse to the park sometime in the spring,” said Conservancy President Rich Norgard. “We are pleased to give the public an opportunity to view the lighthouse while it is being restored.

“Our restoration team, led by Bill Moon and Dr. John Smothers, has devoted hundreds of man-hours to see this project through to completion.”

Conservancy officials will be present at the open house to talk about the history of the lighthouse and restoration effort.

The project hit a snag earlier this year when the conservancy and Port Clinton city officials couldn’t agree on several issues, including where the lighthouse would be relocated.

The conservancy wanted the wooden lighthouse placed at Waterworks Park, just off the Lake Erie shore near the river’s mouth. The city wanted it farther from the waterfront because there were already other projects being considered for that spot, including a now-approved walking trail, Mayor Vincent P. Leone said.

“We believe the tentatively agreed [on] location is back far enough that it would not interfere with the trail,” he said.

Mayor Leone said the group must also comply with several other requirements, which include purchasing insurance for the lighthouse and obtaining legally recognized nonprofit status.

Built in 1896, the lighthouse is owned by Darrell Brand, owner of Brand’s Marina in Port Clinton. It has sat on the marina property, farther west down the river, for more than 60 years. It was relocated from the west pier of the Portage River after previous owners bought it from the city to avoid it being destroyed.

The restoration work, which cost about $30,000, is being paid for by a grant and through private donations.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse, a four-sided, pyramidal wooden structure, guided vessels into the Portage River until about 1927, Mr. Norgard said.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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