• Keeper

Hidden Treasures

In 1948, when the last keeper moved out of the lighthouse, an empty building was left behind. Although the US Coast Guard still maintained the beacon on top – as it does today – no one resided in the structure after that year. Unfortunately, that left the building vulnerable to trespassers and looters. As a result, it was stripped of whatever could be carried away, leaving very few items of historical significance.

But I did find a few items of interest tucked in the attic or stashed in the basement. Among those were 10 fully intact glass panels that were used as interior storm windows. They easily fit into the lower level windows and add another layer of warmth against the winter chill.

Another item that was just too heavy to carry off was a solid iron ladder that was propped up in the basement to access a room that served as the original cistern. An old fog horn, which now makes a perfect end table, also remained. The writing on the foghorn led me to contact Pharos Marine Automatic Power of Houston, Texas, which confirmed it was the manufacturer. In its heyday, the ELG-300 directional horn had a 2 mile range and operated at a 150Hz 1000W input.

But the most interesting artifact that I have found in the eaves of the lighthouse is a large wooden shipping crate. The front panel of the crate sports a small paper delivery label that provides the shipping address as “Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light Station.” The large painted lettering shows that the crate contained a refrigerator built by Frigidaire in Dayton, OH. At that time, Frigidaire was owned by the General Motors Company, also noted. The crate was shipped from Dayton on April 27, 1947 and arrived at the lighthouse on May 27, 1947 – one full month to travel from one corner of the state to the other. Although there’s no evidence of the actual refrigerator in the lighthouse, the crate panel is by far my favorite find. Furthermore, knowing that the original appliances were made by Frigidaire prompted me to install new Frigidaire appliances in their place.

As interior renovations to the lighthouse continue, there’s no telling what I might find. Who’s to say there isn’t some long lost pirate booty, European jewels, or a missing copy of the Declaration of Independence? Don’t worry, I’ll keep looking.

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