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Perry Memorial to reopen ahead of schedule

Tom Jackson • Jul 2, 2012 at 3:07 PM

The patriotic and popular Perry Memorial will reopen ahead of schedule — and just in time for the Independence Day holiday.

The National Park Service had previously announced the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial would reopen July 20.

But with restoration work on the monument going better than expected, the memorial’s superintendent, Blanca Alvarez Stransky, announced the monument will open Tuesday.

National Park Service workers have had a final walk-through, and the staff are putting in long hours to get the monument cleaned and ready for visitors.

The monument, a Doric column that soars 352 feet into the air, has often been closed since 2006, when a chunk of the observation tower broke off and fell to the ground. No one was injured, but officials realized the memorial needed major work.

The memorial honors Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British fleet on Sept. 10, 1813.

Officials at the National Park Service kept the visitor center open during the repairs. The center includes displays on the battle and has been used to present programs on the War of 1812.

Stransky said good weather and good cooperation between the two companies handling the renovation allowed the monument to reopen early. The work was carried out by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates and the Cleveland Marble Mosaic Company.

Work to remove shards of rock from the outside of the monument began in early May. The workers were in swing stages high in the air.

Rain and wind hampered the work for the first couple of weeks, but then the weather improved, said Ed Drobnick, the project manager at Cleveland Marble.

“As you can see, the swing stages require a calm wind,” he said.

High winds are more of a factor in getting the work done than safety, he said.

The workers are attached to the monument by a lifeline, so even if the cable holding the swing stage failed, they’d still be OK, he said.

“If the wind’s blowing us and we’re two or three feet away from the shaft of the monument, we can’t even get to our work,” Drobnick said.

Getting to the top of the monument has involved taking a ride on an old elevator. Thanks to the renovations, visitors will find that the ride has improved, Stransky said.

The historic elevator is still there, but the wiring and the interior parts have all been replaced.

“Instead of that clunky feeling you got on the ride to the top, you’re going to get a smooth ride,” she said.

June 18 marked the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812.

The National Park Service polled visitors on whether they supported or opposed the war with the British.

Nationally, the popular vote ran against the war, with 33 percent voting for war and 66 percent voting against.

But the local poll at the Perry Monument showed 124 people voting “Yes” for war, with only 61 voting “No,” Stransky said.

Want to Go?

What: Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

COST: $3 for elevator ride to top; children 15 and under free with adult supervision

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