Monumental maintenance: Memorial to key victory in War of 1812, first opened to visitors in 1915, again is accessible after $2.4 million renovation
Visitors to Put-in-Bay again can stand 317 feet above Lake Erie atop Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial and envision the battle between American and British naval forces that changed the complexion of the War of 1812.
The 352-foot-tall memorial first opened to visitors in summer 1915, and reopened this season after a year of maintenance and repairs.
The monument stands in a national park that honors the men who fought and died in the Battle of Lake Erie Sept. 10, 1813, and celebrates the enduring peace since then between the United States, Great Britain and Canada.
From the open-air observation deck — accessible by elevator — visitors can see large expanses of Lake Erie, area islands and the United States and Canada mainlands.
The $2.4 million maintenance project included repointing the exterior masonry, removing efflorescence (a crystal-like substance that forms on concrete and stone surfaces), replacing broken interior wall tile and rehabilitating five exterior bronze doors.
“Maintaining an historic structure that is 103 years old requires vigilance and some patience,” said Superintendent Barbara Fearon. “The maintenance is costly and we are often competing with other parks for those dollars.”
Safety of visitors and staff, she said, is always the primary concern while park staff continually work toward securing funding to preserve the memorial column for future generations.
Fees for riding to the observation deck paid the $171,000 bill for rehabilitation of five bronze doors and interior wall tile replacement, which were completed simultaneously to the exterior work. Four doors on the upper plaza level were vandalized in 2017 in addition to their 100 years of wear.
The double doors to the observation deck were in poor condition due to weather and other factors.
All five doors now function properly.
Now that major maintenance is complete, Fearon and supervisors at the national park are looking toward making the memorial more accessible to people with disabilities.
“Our ultimate goal is to make the park facilities and grounds, ranger programs and special events, and our information sources such as the visitor center exhibits and park website accessible to people of all abilities,” she said. “That’s not just a basic human right, it is the law.”
Meetings took place last week to gather public input into an accessibility management plan with a goal of identifying existing barriers to accessibility of buildings, exhibits, programs, special events and the park’s website. National Park Service staff worked with Commonwealth Heritage Group and the National Center on Accessibility to evaluate the park’s accessibility and to design a preliminary plan to improve accessibility parkwide.
“Whether the barrier is physical or programmatic, it is our job to make every effort to remove the barrier or provide an alternative so that this national treasure is accessible to everyone,” she said.
If you go
The memorial and visitors center, at 93 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through September and is open Fridays through Mondays the first half of October. Check the website for more details.
Adult admission to the observation deck is $7 per person, and children ages 15 and younger are admitted free. Admission to the visitors center is free. Credit cards are accepted for fee payment for the first time this year.
An annual pass can be purchased for $30, which admits the pass holder and three adults for a calendar year. A visit to the center includes a 15-minute film about the Battle of Lake Erie, War of 1812, peace that has endured since then between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, and construction of the memorial.
For more information, visit www.nps.gov/pevi, the park’s Facebook page, Twitter @PerrysVIPM or Instagram @perrysvictorynps or call (419) 285-2184.