“The observation deck atop the monument column at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial will be closed throughout most of the 2007 visitor season” announced Superintendent Andy Ferguson. Sunday, June 9, will be the last day that visitors will be assured the opportunity of taking the 1915 Otis elevator to the 317’ level and looking out across the waters of Lake Erie this summer. Ferguson was optimistic that, “We may still have some opportunities to open up the Monument to public access on some weekends, but only if we can do it with no risk to our visitors and without disruption to the restoration work being done.”
Additional studies of the Monument are essential to further identify the underlying damage that may be hidden by the sheer mass of the structure. Ferguson said that unlike going to the dentist for a decayed tooth, there are no X-ray machines able to gauge the extent of damage. So, it is necessary to remove large slabs of the Milford pink granite and expose the developing problems in order to determine the best method of repair, actual costs and schedule of future preservation efforts. Some water-proofing and temporary conservation will also be accomplished this summer during the closure. By starting now, it is anticipated that the Monument will be completely restored in advance of the centennial and bicentennial events involving the War of 1812.
A year ago during the evening of June 22nd, a piece of granite facing stone weighing about 500 pounds fell from the Monument column onto the upper plaza of Perry's Victory Memorial. It fell from the southeast side of the observation deck and broke into a number of smaller pieces, also shattering the plaza floor. While the event was “heard,” no one was injured. The Monument was closed for 64 days last summer until the initial damage could be studied and a fence erected to ensure the public’s safety. During the fall of 2006, 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 have taken a toll on this remarkable structure.
Despite the fact that the Monument column will be closed, the Visitor Center and grounds are open. Special events and programs will be held on the back steps of the Visitor Center, much as they were last summer. One exception to an otherwise full schedule of events is the cancellation by the Fireland’s Symphony that had been slated for the evening of June 30. The Symphony is going through a transitional period with the departure of Conductor Santos Perez and unable to play at Put-in-Bay this year.
Meanwhile, the Visitor Center is open with a 20-minute surround sound presentation, interpretive talks are regularly given, and musket demonstrations continue on their usual schedule. The Monument grounds are beautiful and the public is invited to share in the history and message of shared peace at the only International Peace Memorial in the National Park Service. Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial is open Sunday through Thursday form 10 am to 7 pm and Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm. For questions call: (419) 285-2184.