The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 8, 2007

Not taken lightly

Preservation society takes over ownership of Ashtabla Lighthouse

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP - - There is nothing new about the Ashtabula Lighthouse except the owners.

After years of application to the General Services Administration, the Ashtabula Lighthouse Restoration and Preservation Society took possession of the historic lighthouse Sunday afternoon in a deed transfer ceremony.

"We are proud and happy to be here today to take ownership of the lighthouse. So many people have worked for this," society president Joe Santiana said.

Five years ago the 15 members of the society realized the U.S. Coast Guard's plans to release Great Lakes lighthouses from it's inventory. Santiana knew then he had to save the historic lighthouse.

With the help of State Rep. George Distel, D-Conneaut, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources leases the lake bottom under the lighthouse and the Army Corps of Engineers leases the breakwater space to the lighthouse owner.

An audience of supporters watched as Distel presented the golden key to the lighthouse to society members.

"This lighthouse is an important part of history. I hope more groups will step up to preserve and restore these lighthouses for our children and their children and grandchildren," Distel said.

Brooke Barton of the U.S. Coast Guard said the lighthouse and her father's love for the old structure directed her to a career in the Coast Guard.

"I grew up hearing stories about this lighthouse and those stories provided the inspiration for my career," she said.

Now the society must take on the arduous task of preserving the structure, a process that will take up to five years and $1 million.

"We are looking for a major corporate sponsor to help fund our restoration. Businesses and county residents can sign up for membership, which will help us a lot," Santiana said.

"We have a five-year restoration plan that includes a complete engineering assessment and a lot of hard work to get the building cleaned and open for some tours by the end of next summer," Santiana said.

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