Like anything that’s been standing in the same spot for almost 150 years, the historic lighthouse in Fairport Harbor Village has its scratches and dents.
It’s all part of the 146-year-old tower’s character. But, thanks in large part to its perch on the Northcoast, where harsh and windy conditions often prevail, that character can begin to crumble.
Thankfully, the 68-foot tower isn’t doing any significant crumbling. But the iconic symbol of Lake County isn’t getting any younger, either. And it takes regular maintenance to preserve its integrity.
In an ongoing effort, the all-volunteer Fairport Harbor Historical Society, which maintains the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse at 129 Second St., is working to support a restoration project on the tower and keeper’s house, according to museum trustee and Fairport Harbor Village Councilman Tony Bertone, who oversees the buildings and grounds operation at the museum.
“It’s masonry and it’s about 150 years old,” Bertone said in an Aug. 4 phone interview. “So the masonry needs attention from time to time.”
Specifically, he said, the tower and keeper’s house require a fair amount of tuckpointing work done.
The process involves removing any damaged mortar between bricks and replacing it with fresh material, according to an article on West Hartford, Conn.-based Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
“So, the process would entail running some scaffolding around the structures, getting some masons up there and have them go to work,” he said, adding that the price tag is in the $200,000 neighborhood. “It’s a big effort and it takes a lot of dollars.”
He said besides the masonry work, there are numerous other, continuing maintenance and preservation projects all over the property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“There are several artifacts around the property that need to be painted. The oil house and the pilot house are good examples.”
Bertone said the pilot house, especially, needs quite a bit of work, quite often.
“The pilot house consistently needs updating and painting. We have to strip off the existing paint, then refresh the surface so it will accept the paint again,” he said, likening it to the never-ending paint jobs another iconic symbol undergoes. “It’s kind of like when they have to paint the Golden Gate Bridge. They go through all the time and hard work to…