LORAIN — Renovations of the Lorain Lighthouse are expected to be completed by August, but right now the focus is on the lighthouse lens.
The lens, removed from the lighthouse when it was decommissioned in 1965, returns to the city on Thursday, said Ed Baker, president of the Port of Lorain Foundation, the nonprofit group restoring the lighthouse. The lens will be on public display indefinitely at the new Lorain Port Authority ferry terminal after the terminal’s grand opening March 18.
The lens had been in the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse in Rochester, N.Y. The foundation has been negotiating since 1995 with the U.S. Coast Guard, which owns the lens, to return it to Lorain. The Coast Guard has leased the lens to the foundation for $1 for 15 years.
The 50,000-watt, 220-pound lens has a 15-mile radius and was so powerful that Coast Guard members in Lorain had to pull curtains around it in the daytime so magnified sunlight wouldn’t set objects ashore on fire. The foundation spent $20,000 for cleaning and renovating the lens, according to Baker.
The work took about four months and was done by ICA Art Conservation in Cleveland. About $220,000 from a state taxpayer grant is paying for renovation of the lighthouse and the lens.
Baker said the lens will be on a 640-pound pedestal in a display case. The motor has been repaired so people will be able to see how the lens worked. The Coast Guard won’t allow the lens to be put back in the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was to be demolished after its closing, but a storm delayed the demolition. Local leaders fought to save it and, in 1977, the Lorain County Historical Society took possession of the deed. It was turned over the foundation in 1990.
Steven Luca, foundation chairman, said he was excited about the return of the lens and that the renovation of the lighthouse is nearly done 49 years after it closed.
“There are a lot of people that have helped us,” he said. “It’s finally worked out.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A brunch fundraiser for the Lorain Lighthouse is at Jackalope Lakeside, 301 Lakeside Ave., Lorain, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 16. Tickets are $18. For more information, call Frank at (440) 960-2301.