TOLEDO HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
The Toledo Harbor Light is located about five miles north of Maumee Bay State Park's
shores. The lighthouse marks the entrance to the Toledo Shipping Channel where Lake Erie
and Maumee Bay meet. Boaters are generally destined for the Maumee River.
In 1897 the Toledo shipping channel was dredged wider and deeper to allow increased shipping to the Port of Toledo located in the Maumee River, furthering the need for a new lighthouse. The Army Corps of Engineers designed the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse and construction began in 1901. A 20-foot deep stone crib is at the base of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse. The Toledo Lighthouse is four stories high with a steel frame and an attached one-story fog signal annex building. The Lighthouse has Romanesque arches and buff brick. Its original cost was $152,000. The total height is 85 feet. First illuminated May 23, 1904, the 3-½ order Fresnel lens featured a 180-degree bulls eye, two smaller 60-degree bulls eyes and a ruby red half cylinder glass made in Paris, France by Barbier and Bernard. A weighted clockwork mechanism made the light rotate. The original Fennel lens could be seen from up to twenty-four miles. The original lens was removed by helicopter in 1995. For about ten years, the lens was at COSI in Toledo. The Toledo Lighthouse now displays the lens at Maumee Bay State Park in the lodge which can be seen 24/7.
In 1966 the light was automated and Coast Guard keepers no longer manned the lighthouse. To prevent vandalism, a uniformed mannequin officer was placed in the window and the windows in the lower floors were boarded, the boat basin removed. Through the years there were two uniformed officer mannequins but only one remains. She has a blond wig and is fondly known as Sarah. Coast Guardsmen assigned to maintain the light sign the mannequin. With the lure of the mannequins, ghost stories came about. In 1985 the light was removed and replaced with a new small efficient lens. The lighthouse was first operated under the U.S. Lighthouse Service with living quarters for the chief, assistant keeper and their families. The basement had seven rooms including a commissary, general store, furnace etc. The Coast Guard now maintains the Toledo Light. The overall condition of the Toledo Light House is good. The inside is empty, except for Sarah, the Mannequin, in the second story window. The lighthouse has 4,000 square feet.
Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society
Is an all volunteer nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve, restore and provide public outreach and access to the lighthouse. The organization has grown to 500 members. THLPS owns the lighthouse and leases the original Toledo Lighthouse lens. THLPS is proud of our accomplishments and our members. Meetings are open to all.
The original light at the Toledo Lighthouse, a 3 1/2 order Fresnel Lens made by Barbier and Bernard, is located at the lodge at Maumee Bay State Park and can be seen anytime. The lens has two bulls eyes and one clam shell. The lit prisms and glass made the light visible up to sixteen miles. The 3.5 order Fresnel lens is one of only three made. The Toledo Lighthouse is one of a kind - very unique architecturally .
The Secretary of the Department of Interior approved the application for the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society (THLPS) to own the lighthouse. On April 25, 2007, THLPS received the the deed and keys to the lighthouse. We are all grateful to those that helped with this lengthy process.
The Toledo Lighthouse Society received two grants to assist with the Restoration Plans and Specifications. Ohio D.N.R. through the Coastal Zone Management Program, provided a two year $48,000 grant for Duket Architects to prepare plans and specification for the lighthouse restoration project. Also, the Ohio Lake Erie Protection Fund awarded $14,900 for this project. The total cost of the project is $102,000. The additional funding was provided from fundraising, memberships and a five year loan.
The restortion will kick off in the fall of 2015 when the first floor windows and shutters will be installed. One of the windows that remains covered by cement bolck will be restored, the other windows/shutters will replace the cement blocks that now cover the window openings. The estimated cost of the project is $90,000. We thank Genoa Bank for a $40,000 loan to start the restortation process. This loan has been fully paid. The complete restoration will cost an estimated $2.0 million. Restoration Phase is the recipient of a FHWA/ODOT $500,000 grant with a match of $138,000 required. The 'My Lighthouse Window Capital Campaign' is underway. The first phase of the Restoration includes windows, doors, shutters and tucking the brick. Restoration Phase Two is for infrastructure and will include solar power, electrical, plumbing, a wastewater system, and gray water treatment. Restoration Phase Three if for interior work and finishing. Additional grants are being sought to complete restoration.
Once the restoration is complete, two couples will become 'Lighthouse Keepers' that will stay at the lighthouse for some number of days to allow visitors to see the lighthouse from May through October. Members will be given preference to become 'Lighthouse Keepers' and then will be open to the public(through an application process).
A ramp, dock and lift received a grant from the Lake Erie Protection Fund(Marblehead License Plates), Art Iron provided the Platform, and the Toledo Lighthouse Society provided the rest. The access project was completed in October 2008. On April 9, 2009 all was well, On April 11 the dock and ramp were gone along with parts of the lift. The ramp was recovered, the dock never was recovered. A new dock and lift were installed by Meinke's in July 2011. This dock was taken by a major storm. Efforts for a new dock etc. are being worked on.
In 2007 the Toledo Lighthouse Society won the Excellence Preservation Award from the Landmark's Preservation Council.
You can view the Toledo Lighthouse from the shores of Maumee Bay State Park through a viewer located on the walkway on the east side of the marina in front of the lodge near the marina.
We hope that you will consider having a lighthouse window in your name, donating/joining the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society, Our major annual event is the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Festival featuring boat rides around the lighthouse, island music, nautical arts and crafts, food, children's activities and a silent auction. The Toledo Lighthouse Festival is July 11 and 12, 2020.