Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was established to honor those who fought “The Battle of Lake Erie,” during the War of 1812. This decisive naval victory ensured modern-day Ohio and Michigan would remain a part of the United States of America. The memorial also celebrates lasting peace between the United States, Great Britain and Canada.
This 352-foot tall column is the nation’s third tallest memorial structure, after the Washington Monument and the St. Louis Arch. It has towered over South Bass Island for nearly 100 years; however, in the summer of 2006 a piece of granite weighing about 500 pounds fell from the column onto the memorial’s upper plaza. The granite fell from the southeast side of the observation deck, broke into smaller pieces and shattered the plaza floor. Fortunately, no one was hurt. According to the National Park Service website, the monument was closed for 64 days until the initial damage could be studied and a fence erected to ensure the public’s safety. That fall, a more detailed inspection was conducted by taking core samples of the monument’s concrete substructure. The damage caused by 94-years of harsh Lake Erie winters and the freeze-thaw of water that penetrated into small cracks had taken a toll on this remarkable structure. It was then determined that Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial was in need of major repair and restoration.
The memorial’s observation deck has been closed to public access since September 2009. Repairs continue to be made to the deck, the walls and the drainage system. Future restoration plans include improvements to the exterior of the monument and the grounds below. Restoration is to be complete by May 2012, in time for the Bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812.
While restoration takes place, rangers will give “construction tours.” Meanwhile, the adjacent visitor’s center will be opening on March 25, 2011, weekends only, until April 22, 2011 when it will be open seven days a week. The hours are 10 am – 5 pm. Many special events will be held on the memorial grounds throughout 2011, including an Earth Day celebration & Junior Ranger Jamboree, Commodore Perry Education Days, Fourth of July celebrations with music and fireworks, Historical Weekend and more. For additional information, please call 419.285.2184.