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Report recaps 2023 achievements at Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse

by Staff

Timothy Purchase, as the Grinch, read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss from the top of the lighthouse in Fairport Harbor on Dec. 2. (News-Herald file photo)

Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse welcomed more than 4,000 visitors in 2023.

The tourist attraction also was open for more days and hours last year.

Those were several accomplishments mentioned in the latest annual report produced by the Fairport Harbor Historical Society. The group’s president, Marty O’Gara, gave a presentation on that document during a recent Fairport Harbor Village Council meeting.

The society is an all-volunteer organization that operates and maintains the museum, founded in 1945, and the 152-year-old lighthouse, both located at 129 Second St. These two structures are owned by the village government and leased to the historical society, in perpetuity, at an annual cost of $1.

In 2023, 4,057 people visited the museum and lighthouse, the report stated. That represented an increase of 719 visitors, compared with the 3,338 guests who dropped by during the 2022 season.

Visitors who signed the guestbook in 2023 hailed from 30 different states and at least seven foreign countries: Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Finland, Dominion Republic, Ukraine and South Africa, according to the report.

Last year, the museum and lighthouse also expanded its days and hours of operation.

“We were open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and all legal holidays,” the report stated.

During the 2022 season, the tourist site kept regular hours of 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

In 2023, the society also “made a concerted effort to be involved in village special events and had the museum open for those activities,” the report stated.

Overall, 29 volunteers from the society logged a total of 1,625 hours last year.

For the society, 2023 also marked a year when it wrapped up or moved forward with a variety of projects to improve the museum or lighthouse, either in terms of facilities or operations. Examples include:

• New steps and handrails were installed leading up to the lighthouse tower.

• New basement stairs were installed at the museum.

• The tower lighting was replaced with new LED lighting.

“This lighting has the capability to be programmed for various colors to celebrate holidays, commemorate special events and so forth,” the report stated.

• The gift shop roof was redone by Vale Roofing Co. at no cost to the museum.

• A new boiler and hot water heater were installed at the museum.

• The society has received funding from the Lake County Visitors Bureau to enhance the museum.

This money is being earmarked for two endeavors: creating new interactive displays for museum visitors, and developing new exterior signage.

• The society is working on a digitization project so that many of its photographs and documents can be preserved.

“This project was first started by Leadership Lake County in 2022. They assisted us with hands-on help and provided us with a scanner, a laptop computer and two television screens,” the report stated.

The project is now being conducted by four society volunteers.

“We also received a grant from the Painesville Elks to purchase another computer dedicated to archival activities,” the report stated.

Mary Alyce Gladding, former president of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society, poses for a photo outside of the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse in 2020. The society operates and maintains the museum and lighthouse. Gladding concluded an eight-year stretch as society president in March of last year. (News-Herald file photo)

The News-Herald file,

Mary Alyce Gladding, former president of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society, poses for a photo outside of the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse in 2020. The society operates and maintains the museum and lighthouse. Gladding concluded an eight-year stretch as society president in March of last year. (News-Herald file photo)

O’Gara started as Fairport Harbor Historical Society president in late March of last year. She succeeded Mary Alyce Gladding, who had served as the group’s president for eight years.

Gladding has stayed on as a member of the society’s trustee board and is now in her 27th year as an active volunteer in the organization.

After O’Gara read through the annual report at the Feb. 20 Village Council meeting, Fairport Harbor Mayor Timothy Manross credited the society for accomplishing “quite a bit in the last year.”

“As I’ve said before, we’re fortunate to have the society and its dedicated volunteers that help run the museum and lighthouse, and manage it and maintain it,” Manross said. “It is a labor of love.”

The Museum and Lighthouse is scheduled to open for the 2024 season on May 25.

 

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