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  • Writer's pictureKeeper

97th Birthday Celebration

Each year, we celebrate the day, June 9, 1925, that the beacon was first lit at Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse. It’s the lighthouse’s birthday. And after a two-year pandemic hiatus, we once again opened the doors to nearly 400 people from far and wide who wanted a peek inside.

Many people who attend the annual lighthouse birthday party are from the surrounding communities and are eager to see what lies behind the white walls they have starred at from shore for so long. Others are lighthouse fanatics, who drive several hours to tour the lighthouse and get their United States Lighthouse Society Passports stamped. Some are just visiting the beach at Mentor Headlands State Park and wondering what the commotion is about.

Everyone one who visits is greeted by dedicated volunteers in red T-shirts, asked to sign the guest book, and directed to wander the five floors (including the basement) that makes Fairport Harbor West so special. Red velvet birthday cake (red and white like the lighthouse, get it??) is offered (but doesn’t last long) and there’s a “before” and “after” photo album attendees can peruse.

In 2022, the lighthouse turned 97. That’s a ripe old age for anyone, but particularly for a building that has been undergoing renovations for 11 years. The good news is that while there will always be “projects,” much of the restoration work is now complete. Paint is on the walls, the kitchen is installed and working, water pours from the faucets (when the generator is on), and the bathrooms have showers, floors, and toilets. Every room has furniture that includes carefully sourced antiques from Craigslist, eBay, and antique shops. The decor includes donated photos of the lighthouse in every kind of weather, lighthouse knickknacks, art, pillows, and red and white antique enamelware.

Guests often start in the basement where there’s a bunk room, full bath, workshop table, wine cellar, cistern, and a lot of mechanical equipment. They proceed to the upper level where there are two bedrooms and two bathrooms along with a central foyer that used to serve as the keepers living room/office/communications center. One more flight up is the service level – a small tower room – and finally the stairs to the widow’s walk for the best view in Lake County, OH.

If you haven’t been to tour Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse now that the renovations are substantially done, you should. Mark your calendar for June 10, 2023 or reach out via the website or social media to arrange a private tour. It’s worth the walk to see one of Lake County’s most revered icons.

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