NewsHidden Gems


The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse is filled history—and a 'Ghost Cat'

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Posted at 1:08 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 15:05:09-04

FAIRPORT HARBOR — The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse isn’t your average lighthouse. While many lighthouses met their eventual demise of the wrecking ball, this one remained standing thanks to efforts by locals who refused to see it disappear from the shoreline landscape.

“This is the first lighthouse to be saved from the wrecking ball. It's the first maritime museum on a lighthouse reservation. And the thing I think I'm most proud of is the fact that it is always been maintained its entire 75-year history by volunteers,” said Dan Maxson, trustee, curator and lead docent at the museum.

The lighthouse was recently listed as one of our 100 hidden gems of Cleveland.

Visitors who want to brave new heights can climb the 69 steps of the lighthouse for a picturesque view of Lake Erie from the top.

In addition to its rich maritime history, the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse has been the subject of The Animal Program’s “The Haunted,” which told the story of when trustees discovered mummified remains of a gray cat while installing air conditioning in the museum.

As the story goes, in 1871, Captain Joseph Babcock, who was the head keeper of the lighthouse, resided on the second floor quarters of the present museum. He gave his bedridden wife numerous cats to keep her company, and when she died, all the cats disappeared, except for the gray cat. Years later, a curator who was living upstairs reported seeing the ghost of the gray cat.

Since that sighting, the legend of the ghost cat has been a topic of conversation in the building.

Located not too far from Northeast Ohio wine country, the museum is open from Memorial Day weekend through September, with walk-ins and private tours available upon appointment.

Watch this video for a deeper look at the lighthouse and museum:

The story behind the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Museum

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