Tuesday, Aug 22, 2006
On Saturday, the 352-foot-high column at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial will reopen to the public after being closed for 64 days.
The public is invited to come experience the breath-taking view from the 317â observation deck. On a clear day, mainland Canada and Cleveland are often visible, as are the surrounding islands and coastline of Lake Erieâs western basin. The location of Perry's historic War of 1812 naval victory over a superior British fleet is also very easily seen.
On June 22nd, a 500-pound piece of the fascia stone fell, crashing onto the upper plaza in the evening hours. Fortunately no one was killed or injured. A snow fence was immediately erected and the area posted. Since that time, it has been necessary to keep the monument column closed for fear that other pieces of Milford pink granite might become dislodged, with more adverse results.
The National Park Service has since conducted two engineering studies, leading to the determination that the 13 fascia stones above the north entrance are quite secure. The failure is generally being attributed to water infiltration together with freeze-thaw cycles and their effects on previous repairs, especially on the southwest corner.
By cordoning off the upper plaza with a chain-link security fence and creating a protected walkway directly into the column, visitors can safely enjoy a trip to the top of the tallest monument with an open-air observation deck in the United States.
âWith the safety measures that we have taken," said superintendent Andy Ferguson, "we are now completely confident that people can make the tour to the observation deck without risk.â
A chain-link security fence will remain in place around the upper plaza until a temporary stabilization treatment can be put into place around the other three sides. Meanwhile, sandbags will be placed on the upper plaza to âcatchâ any other pieces that might fall. This measure is largely to protect the upper plaza from additional damage.
A comprehensive study of the entire monument structure is now in the planning stage and the results will be used to determine the costs and best way to repoint and repair the Perry's Victory Memorial in anticipation of ceremonies and celebrations associated with the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie.
The visitor center and grounds Perry's Victory Memorial have remained open all summer, with interpretive programs and black powder demonstrations continuing as scheduled. Events such as the Firelands Symphony, the barbershop quartet concert and the 4th of July naturalization ceremony have been well attended, but visitation is down 44% for the month of July.
In addition to visitorâs spoiled vacation plans, with the only source of income closed, Perry's Victory has experienced from $500 to $1,500 a day in lost revenues.
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial is open seven days a week through the end of October. Summer times of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday thru Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays. After Historic Weekend (September 9-10), check for changes in times. The entrance fee is $3 for visitors 16 and over. Children are free.