Despite the inaccessibility of the plaza, rotunda and column, the park, park grounds and the Visitor Center open May 20 for the 2017 season. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial has a full schedule of events and Ranger programs this year, including the new Put-in-Bay Music Festival on June 10 featuring eight bands. All park programs are free. For a full schedule of 2017 events and programs, visit nps.gov/pevi.
The memorial is a massive Greek Doric column looming 352 feet over Lake Erie in Put-in-Bay’s downtown harbor. The pink granite and concrete structure took 34 months to build and opened on June 13, 1915. For 102 years Perry’s Victory, the National Park Service’s only international peace memorial, has stood unprotected through northern Ohio’s bitter winters and some blistering summers. The cycle of freezing and thawing, along with substandard repairs by contractors in the 1960’s and early 1980’s, took its toll on the historic structure.
A compromised drainage system that allowed water to infiltrate the column caused structural damage that resulted in a 500-pound piece of granite falling 317 feet off the southeast side of the observation deck in June 2006. For obvious safety concerns the column was inaccessible in 2006 and intermittently in 2007 while surveys were conducted on the structure’s safety.Park officials started competing for federal funds to make needed repairs. In 2010 the park received $7.2 million in funding to repair the drainage issues on the observation deck and to overhaul the 1938 Otis elevator that carries visitors to the top.
The column was inaccessible from 2010 through early 2012 while Phase I of the maintenance and repairs were completed. Perry’s Victory secured $1.8 million in funding for fiscal year 2017 to tackle Phase II of the project. The silicone sealant installed in the 1960’s and replaced in the 1980’s to seal the mortar between the joint lines in the granite failed and allowed water – both surface precipitation, and from poor drainage on the observation deck – to deteriorate the mortar. The re-pointing of the column is being done with swing stages instead of scaffolding, which will cut the time it takes to complete repairs in half. This cycle of maintenance is expected to continue every 20 years. The column will be inaccessible in 2017 while the silicone is removed, the column cleaned and the mortar joints repaired. Safety is the park’s number one concern. This project completes a program of repairs, cleaning and maintenance necessary for the continued safe use of the structure.