Built in 1821, the Marblehead Lighthouse is still standing strong as the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on all of the Great Lakes. Gracefully set on the rocky limestone shore of Lake Erie, this beacon and its adjacent Keeper’s House became an Ohio State Park in 1998.
The tower’s illustrious history boasts the first female lighthouse keeper in the United States, a rare three and one-half order Fresnel lens, and a functional iron staircase dating to the early 1900’s. A masonry finish covers the original limestone exterior of the lighthouse. Inside you will find a brick stack constructed in the late 1800’s to raise the tower’s height by fifteen feet. The commanding view from the top showcases several Lake Erie islands, a glacial alvar below, and a view of the Cleveland shoreline on clear days. The on-site Keeper’s House was built in 1880 and is now a museum staffed by historical society volunteers. A total of sixteen keepers have tended the light. The United States Coast Guard is now responsible for the maintenance of the beacon. The Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.
Throughout the year nearly one million people visit the park and over twenty thousand will climb the 77 steps to the top. Known as the most photographed site in the State of Ohio, it is also the favorite subject of countless artists.
Renovation of the Lighthouse
Beginning in the Fall of 2019, renovation of the Lighthouse tower began. The structure of the lighthouse was in good shape, but the outside surface was in need of some repair. Scaffolding was erected and the process of removing loose material began. As the workers began chipping away at the damaged areas, they found additional spots that needed some surface repair, so the time required was extended. Although it took some extra time and effort, it was worth it to know the job was done correctly. Once all of the loose material was removed, repair began. By the end of fall, the exterior resurfacing had been completed and the railings had been painted. Everyone was excited the progress, but they were anxious to see the Lighthouse in her full glory with a new coat of paint. Unfortunatly, the weather turned too cold to paint, so over the winter, the Lighthouse stood with a patchwork appearance. Once Spring arrived, the tower was able to be painted, and the transformation of the Lighthouse was complete.