The turn of the century brought with it many changes to the lighthouse.
First, a major structural change—the addition of 15 feet worth of height to the lighthouse. A clockwork, rotating mechanism made the beacon easier to see because the light appeared to “flashed” every 10 seconds no matter the direction you were looking from. However, this did require the keeper to crank weights to keep the system moving every three hours through the night. Finally, the addition of a more sophisticated Fresnel lends that included prism surfaces greatly increased the brilliance of the beacon.
It wasn’t until 1923 that an electric light finally replaced the kerosene lantern. This greatly increased the density and brilliance of the light. During WW2 the lighthouse served as a very important part of the national defense.
In 1946 the last civilian lighthouse keeper turned over the lighthouse to the US Coast Guard. In 1958 the beacon was automated and the very worn exterior was given a fresh coat of stucco.
While the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has maintained the property around Marblehead Lighthouse since the early 70s it wasn’t actually until 1998 that they took over ownership of the lighthouse. The Coast Guard continues to maintain the beacon which was upgrade to a green LED in 2012 making the green signal visible for 11 nautical miles. The green color helps differentiate it from air beacons.
In 1995 the Marblehead Lighthouse was chosen as one of five lighthouses to be featured in a stamp series known as “Lighthouses of the Great Lakes.”
The Marblehead Lighthouse is the longest operating lighthouse on the US side of the Great Lakes.
The 15th US Congress, in 1819, found the need for navigation aides in and around the Great Lakes. They created a $5,000 budget to build a lighthouse at the entrance of the Sandusky Bay in Lake Erie. William Kelly, in 1821, with locals Amos Feena and William Smith built the fifty foot lighthouse with the available local limestone. It was located on the very tip of the Marblehead Peninsula.
Before the light was automated fifteen separate keepers, including two women, operated the lighthouse. First was Revolutionary War veteran Benajah Wolcott who was one of the first settlers in the area. In 1821 the tower and keeper’s house were completed and Wolcott and his family moved in. Every night Wolcott had to light 13 whale oil lamps that comprised the original light fixture including also the metal reflectors which projected the light across the lake.
The keeper was also required to log passing ships, the weather conditions and even organize rescue efforts if necessary.
Wolcott passed away in 1832 and his wife Rachel took over his duties which she passed on to her next husband Jeremiah VanBenschoter.
In 1858 the lighthouse was upgraded from 13 whale oil lamps to a single kerosene lantern whose light was magnified by a Fresnel lens. This is a special curved glass lens that helps to create a high visibility, dense white light.
In 1888 the original Keeper’s House was the present-day Keeper’s House, which is a larger, wooden frame home
In 1876, west of the lighthouse, a lifesaving station was built. Just about a half mile away. Lucien Clemons was the first person in put in charge of the station after he and his brothers saved two sailors from a shipwreck in the area.
The Cincinnati Art Museum presents a very special exhibition that explores the part women have played in art and its history. The exhibition is a presentation of works from the museum’s permanent collection; works from female artists between the seventeenth century to present.
The selection of 38 works spans Europe, North American and Asia. Mediums include oil on canvas, ceramic, metalwork, prints, photography and fashion. Famous artists include Georgia O’Keefe, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Mary Cassatt, Julia Margaret Cameron, Elizabeth Catlett and Chiyo Mitsuhisa.
The intention of the exhibition is to get patrons to think about inclusion, diversity and gender—how these factors affect what is on a museum gallery’s walls.
Women Breaking Boundaries is the museum’s primary contribution to the ArtsWave Power of Her project. During this period the museum’s permanent gallery will rotate through the museum to focus on female artists. Patrons are invited to enjoy not only Women Breaking Boundaries, but the entire museum’s focus on female artists.
Programs like Family First Saturday, Gallery Experiences and lectures will also focus on women in art.
Kelleys Island is mostly forested except for a few small residential neighborhoods. Additionally, a few small farms and one small quarry still exist on the island. Since 1974 the Island has hosted a homecoming festival. This includes a theme parade that invites locals and tourists, a picnic and food and craft attractions.
On Division Street the island is home to a cemetery. While small, the cemetery homes the remains or memorials of several hundred people. One notable resident is Datus Kelley.
In 1975 a portion of the island was created a historic district, the South Shore District, and became part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Business and attractions are numerous and varied. These include pubs and restaurants, a coffee shop, miniature golf, general stores and gift shops. You can also visit the Kelleys Island Wine Company, est. 1872.
While there are bed and breakfast accommodations and vacation cottages and homes, many choose to stay at the campsite that is part of the island’s state park.
John Clemons and his brother started mining for Cunningham Island’s limestone around 1830. The brothers built themselves a dock on the north shore of the island so they could ship the limestone to America. Datus and Irad Kelley soon noticed the island could be worth a lot of money and began to buy it parcel by parcel.
The Kelleys were not native Ohioans, they were both born in Middlefield, Connecticut. Datus came to Rocky River, Ohio to work as a surveyor and owned a sawmill. Irad came to Cleveland, Ohio. He tried a variety of professions and succeeded at them all: sailor, postmaster, merchant, real-estate investor.
It was sailing rather than real-estate that first brought Irad to the island as he had to shelter there while bringing goods from Detroit to Cleveland.
The brothers first began purchasing parcels of Cunningham Island at just a dollar fifty per acre, and would in time own all three thousand acres of the island they renamed Kelleys Island in 1840. At this time 68 people lived on the island.
The brothers soon made many improvements to the island including the docks which were expanded so other goods could be traded. They built 16 limestone kilns. This became the origin of the Kelley Island Lime & and Transport company. At one time they were one of the largest producers of limestone in and other related products in the world.