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Perry Memorial Lighthouse

The Perry Memorial Monument may look like one of the many lighthouses that decorate the shores of the Great Lakes, but its origin is rooted in more direct warfare than the battles with the elements that mariners normally faced. Standing tall and serene on an isthmus of South Bass Island, the Perry Memorial has a complicated history that intersects several of the wars that beset the nation during the many years it took to plan and erect the monument.

By the fall of 1914, construction of the 352-foot high column was well under way. Huge casings were sunk for the concrete piles. By January 1915, the concrete upper plaza and stairway risers were poured, with the lower plaza soon following. By the time the granite parapet walls, steps, and stones that edged the lower plaza were in place, funding ran out. Instead of paving the plazas, the builders covered them with less-expensive gravel.

On June 13, 1915, the Perry Memorial Monument opened to the public. The gleaming column, comprising 2,340 granite stones, finally stood sentinel over the lake, which was Perry's triumph more than 100 years before. The opening was overshadowed but events in Europe: trenches were being dug across the Western front, the Germans had begun using chlorine gas, and the United States was outraged by the recent sinking of the Lusitania. Once again, the memorial to a past victory seemed to be lost in present unrest.

Established: 1914
Status: Active
Location: On Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island.


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