The Ohio Lorain Lighthouse is no longer in use, but the structure still stands, reminding observers of its purpose for many years, of guiding ships safely into port. No one is certain of exactly when the lighthouse was built. Evidence suggests that it was built in 1898, 1909 or 1917. Historians have concluded that 1917 is the most likely date because an act appropriating funds to build a lighthouse and fog station at Lorain Harbor was appropriated in 1913.
The Lorain Lighthouse was built to withstand punishment from Lake Erie. It consists of concrete and steel with walls over 10 inches thick. The lighthouse was not equipped with an electric light until 1932. The Fresnel lens propelled the beam 15 miles out into the lake, giving ships a navigation point for coming toward the port.
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In 1939, the Coast Guard stationed a three man crew at the lighthouse. These men lived and worked there, with six days on and three days off, and two men on sight at all times. The coast guard contingent served as lookouts for the lifeboat station and the Air Force. In the mid 1960s the Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse and scheduled it for demolition.
Attempts to save the lighthouse fell on deaf ears as concerned citizens asked the Coast Guard not to demolish the structure. Severe weather prevented the construction company hired to
demolish the building from carrying out their work in the fall of 1966, by spring 1967 the Coast Guard decided to go along with the community and save the lighthouse for its historic value.
By 1974, the General Services Administration was assigned responsibility for the lighthouse and put it up for sale. The sale was restricted to non-profit historical organizations that could show the financial means needed to maintain the lighthouse. Lorain County Historical Society acquired title to the lighthouse from the General Services Administration in 1997, for $1.00. By the end of 1978, the lighthouse was placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places.
In 1987, inspections of the structure determined that extensive repairs were needed at an estimated cost of $700,000. On December 21, 1989 a group of local business men formed the
Port of Lorain Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation. The purpose of the corporation was to maintain the history and integrity of Lorain’s Waterfront. In February 1990, the Port of
Lorain Foundation, Inc. acquired the Lighthouse for $1.00 from the Lorain County Historical Society. By spring of 1991, $250,000 had been raised for renovations.
By May 1991, $500,000 was appropriated by the U.S. House of Representatives to repair the foundation of the lighthouse. Restorations were made making the Ohio Lorain Lighthouse a safe and sound structure and preserving its historic significance.