Updated: Feb 2
President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
When I started the journey to restore Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse in 2012, I never thought of receiving any recognition. Frankly, in those early years, I could barely think of more than one project at a time. There was so much to do back then…cleaning out the garbage and debris, painting the entire inside, getting all the electrical rewired so that I had lights and plugs when I needed them, designing a kitchen, finding appropriate furnishings, and the list goes on and on. The challenges to complete even one task were daunting including finding vendors willing to make the 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to provide professional services, getting needed supplies onsite, ensuring any changes would conform to the historical covenants and local building codes, and fulfilling my vision for what would become my summer home.
So when I got a phone call from the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office (OSHO) in September 2022 that the lighthouse was being recognized with a 2022 Preservation Merit Award, I was speechless. The expression, “It takes a village,” quickly came to mind as I never could have done the renovations alone. Over the years I relied on a wide range of volunteers and a few trusted professionals to help me in every aspect of the renovations.
Over that time, I have juggled many stressful situations -- mainly dealing with the logistics of getting supplies and large items (furniture, cabinets, appliances, generator, water heater and water treatment equipment) to the lighthouse -- I also encountered many naysayers and skeptics along the way who tried to put a damper on my enthusiasm. As tough as the first few years were logistically, I always felt that my “village” provided just as much, if not more, mental and emotional support than hard labor. And for that, I am forever grateful. When I
needed a hand, they were there. When I doubted my convictions, they encouraged me. When I didn’t know where to turn, they made suggestions and referrals. When I was exasperated, they listened. And when I just needed a break, they took a break with me.
Not to say that it was all an uphill climb. Over the years, I’ve given hundreds of tours to gracious and very appreciative lighthouse aficionados, held numerous open houses for the kind and generous people of the local community, made several presentations about the renovations, and conversed with thousands of curious lighthouse lovers who made their way to my front door, emailed me, or posted messages on social media.
Fortunately, the Ohio State Preservation Office was happy to include my “village” in the award festivities. Their names were included on the certificate, and they were invited to the luncheon where the award was presented. We all gathered in Columbus, OH at the Ohio History Center on a beautiful Fall October day to celebrate. Prior to the luncheon, we got a private tour of the Ohio History Center and afterwards spent more time enjoying the many exhibits that highlight Ohio’s history, industry, and contributions to American society. And while I was honored to be recognized for the 11 years and countless hours that have gone into renovating Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse, I was even more thrilled to be able to share the recognition with the “village” that helped get me there.