The following historical societies, museums and educational institutions are located within Ottawa County or in a neighboring County. While in the area, please include them in your travel. For information on other areas of historical interest in Northwest Ohio, please visit the Northwest Ohio Cultural Heritage Group website at (https://sites.google.com/toledolibrary.org/nwochg/home)
Catawba Island Historical Society
5258 E. Porter Street
Open 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
2018 Grand opening week: June 16- June 21: Saturday-Thursday
Regular days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
Saturdays: June 30 and 2nd & 4th of each month thru October 27
Catawba Island Historical Society is newly formed and will be housed in Union Chapel on E. Porter Road, Catawba. Our mission is to utilize local history to educate, inspire, and prepare for the future. The museum will open to the public on Saturday, June 16. It is intended to be a place where anyone and everyone with an interest in the Catawba story can learn from the books, maps and documents under our planned stewardship.
Elmore Historical Society
P.O. Box 154
353 Ottawa St.
Elmore, OH 43416
419.260.5545 (Jim Krumnow/President)
The Elmore Historical Society was established on January 1, 1980 to preserve and promote the history of Elmore, Ohio and its people. This non-profit organization has worked to restore historic buildings, engage in educational programming for the public, and to institute a museum to show case memorabilia from Elmore's past. By calling the number above we can arrange tours of the Heckman Log Cabin & Train Depot Museum, or you can rent out the Historical Barn for special occasions. The organization also puts on several community events, such as the Portage River Festival, Grub n Suds, and Tombstone Derby.
Ida Rupp Library
310 Madison Street
Port Clinton, Ohio 43452
MON-THU 9:30A-8:30P; F &
SAT 9:30A-5:30P; SUN 1:00P-4:00P
The first public library in Port Clinton was founded in 1908 by the Ladies' Literary and Social Club. On his death in 1964, Judge Lawrence C. Rupp bequeathed from his estate the sum of $42,000 toward a new library building as a memorial to his late wife, Ida, member of the Ladies' Literary and Social Club, and a Library Board member from 1917 until her death in 1926.
Harris-Elmore | Genoa Libraries
P.O. Box 45
328 Toledo St.
Elmore, OH 43416
MON-THU 10 am-8 pm; FRI-SAT 10 am-5 pm; closed SUN
The Harris-Elmore Public Library was conceived in 1937 by a group of volunteers that proposed a library for the village of Elmore. In 1945, groundwork being laid by the committees of the Federation of Women's Clubs in Elmore, a small reading room was set up in space provided on site at the Brandes & Trautman Meat Locker. Two years after its opening, the Library Board decided to reorganize the library as a State School District Library, for the purpose of broadening scope and offering its services to a larger area. Accordingly, a new Board of Trustees was appointed, this time by the Board of Education of the school district. By 1952, the library outgrew it's quarters and it moved to a room in the Willard Weis Law Offices on Rice Street. When it became obvious in 1954 that added space would be needed to accommodate the growth of the library, the board, under president, Harry Trautman, sought means of acquiring funds for a library building. Construction began in 1959 on the corner lot of Clinton & Toledo Streets. The new building was dedicated in February of 1960. In 1966, the Genoa Library was added as a branch of the Elmore facility. The Elmore Library boasts one of the finest collections of Ottawa County History in the area in its Grace Luebke Local History & Genealogy Department.
Johnson's Island Preservation Society/
Confederate Civil War Prison Cemetery
Gaydos Drive, south off Bayshore Road (Route 163)
Marblehead, OH 43440
A prison for Confederate soldiers was established on Johnson’s Island in Sandusky Bay during the Civil War. The prison cemetery on the island is open to the public while the museum is located in Sandusky at the Ohio Veterans Home. The cemetery is the only site remaining from the original POW Depot on Johnson’s Island that is open to the public. There are neither comfort stations nor public picnic areas on the island. Visitors to the cemetery pay a $2 fee (dollar bills only; no coin) at a tollgate on Gaydos Drive to drive the causeway to the island.
Kelleys Island Historical Association
224 Division Street
Kelleys Island, OH 43438
Museum & Gift Shop hours:
June-August: Open daily 12-4
May & September: weekends only
The entire Island is on the National Register of Historic Places which makes for an incredibly rich history. The museum features hundreds of photographs, documents from the 1700s, items from 1800s and 1900s, and Native American artifacts. The Old Stone Church, built in 1867, is open on weekends. Exhibits change every year.
Lake Erie Islands Historical Society
25 Town Hall Place
Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
Open Daily: May 15 through 1st weekend in October, 11A-5P
Adults & children-$3; senior citizens-$2.50
The Lake Erie Islands are rich in local and American history. The 6,000 square foot museum has displays depicting early life on the islands and many aspects of life at the turn of the 20th century.
Lake Erie Shores & Islands
770 SE Catawba Rd. (SR 53)
Port Clinton, OH 43452
Phone: 419-734-4386 or 800-441-1271
For assistance in planning your stay in the Lake Erie Islands Region visit the Lake Erie Islands Regional Welcome Center located on SR 53 just north of SR 2.
236 Walnut Avenue
Lakeside, OH 43440
Gate fee policy in effect during summer season;
See website for admission fees
Since 1873, the Lakeside Chautauqua historic community offers religion, arts, recreation, and education activities during its summer programming season. It is also a year-round destination for groups of all sizes.
Lakeside Heritage Society
324 W. Third Street
Lakeside, OH 43340
Museum Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day
SUN 1:30P-4:30P; TUE-SA, 10A-4:30P;
Archives Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day,
TUE-SAT, 10A-2P; Group tours by appointment at 419-798-5519
Founded in 1968, the Society preserves the history of the Marblehead Peninsula and the American Chautauqua movement.
Liberty Aviation Museum
3515 East State Road at the Erie-Ottawa International Airport
Port Clinton, OH 43452
Open year round (Call or visit website for current hours.)
Newer aviation museum featuring WWII B-25 Mitchell Bomber, active restoration of Ford Tri-Motor and other historical aircraft and artifacts incl. Clark Gable’s WWII service uniform and more!
Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park
110 Lighthouse Drive
Marblehead, OH 43440
419-734-4424, ext. 2
State Park website:
Park open year round;
Seasonal tours of Lighthouse and on-site Keepers Museum afternoons, 6 days a week;
Buildings also open 2nd Saturdays from June-October;
Museum-free; Climb stairs to top of Lighthouse-$3.00
Built in 1821, Lighthouse is standing strong as the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on all of the Great Lakes. New in 2016, tour replica of 1876 U.S. Life Saving Station.
The Milan Museum
10 Edison Drive
Hours: FRI-SAT 1P-5P (Feb-May);
TUE-SAT 10A-5P, SUN 1P-5P (Jun, Jul, Aug);
FRI-SUN 1P-5P (Sep-Dec)
The historic Village of Milan is the birthplace of Thomas A. Edison and recognized by the National Trust as a Distinctive Destination. Visitors to the Milan Museum learn a history rich in progress and creativity. Milestones in both history and invention are displayed in the history galleries. The new glass galleries explore European and American glass from the earliest piece in the collection of Roman glass through works of contemporary, local artists. The Milan Museum offers a day exploring historic buildings, filled with engaging exhibits and hands-on activities. Special events and activities for the whole family all year! Call 419-499-2968 or visiit www.milanhistory.org for more information.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
1701 Front Street
Toledo, OH 43605
Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm
SS Col James M. Schoonmaker Museum ship open May - October
Closed on Mondays: Labor Day (Sept)-Memorial Day (May)
Museum is open on Memorial Day and Labor Day
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays: January-March
Closed: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
The National Museum of the Great Lakes is a historical, hands-on museum offering students of all ages a unique opportunity to explore history in an entertaining, educational and profound way. More than 500 breathtaking photographs, 250 incredible artifacts, 45 interactive exhibits and a 617’ iron ore freighter tell the awe-inspiring history of the Great Lakes and provide a unique destination for family fun.
Oak Harbor Public Library
147 West Main Street
Oak Harbor, OH 43449
MON-THUR: 9:30A-8:00P; FRI: 9:30A-5P; SAT:9:30A-3P; SUN: 1:00P-4:00P
The Oak Harbor Public Library was established in 1908 by the Oak Harbor Literary & Social Club. However, the free lending libraries in the Village of Oak Harbor dates back to at least 1875. The mission of the Library is to serve as a center for information retrieval, cultural and intellectual pursuits, self-education, and recreational reading by providing a facility, services, and materials which meet the needs of the community.
Ottawa County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 193
Port Clinton, OH 43452-0193
The Ottawa County Ohio Genealogical Society was organized on November 11, 1969 and is a member of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Its mission is to promote the history of Ottawa County and its people by assisting members and others interested in genealogy in tracing their ancestors with emphasis to Ottawa County. In addition to a quarterly newsletter, the Society produces a number of genealogy-related publications available for purchase. OCGS generally meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Ida Rupp Public Library in Port Clinton, Ohio. Meetings are not held the months of January, February, July, August, and December. All meetings are open to the public and visitors are welcome. Members of the Society do limited research for both members and non-members who live out of the area. Extensive research may require an agreed upon fee.
Ottawa County Museum
126 West Third Street
Port Clinton, OH 43452
Summer hours (Memorial Day to Labor Day) TUE-WED-THU 12N-3P;
Winter hours (Labor Day to Memorial Day) WED 12N-3P or by appointment at 419-732-1039
Established in 1932 by the Area Heritage Foundation to preserve and protect records and artifacts pertinent to the development of Ottawa County, to provide educational information and to create a lasting memory for future generations to study. This small museum features displays about the area. Hours are limited, so call first.
Port Clinton Lighthouse
205 E. Perry Street
Port Clinton, OH
Operated by the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy
P.O. Box 389
Port Clinton, OH 43452
Open for tours during the summer
Located at the mouth of the Portage River, the City of Port Clinton was a shipbuilding port, thriving commercial fishing center, and home for many years to the famous Matthews Boat Company. Nowhere is Port Clinton’s rich maritime heritage more evident than in its unique lighthouses which guided ships into the harbor. The first 1833 lighthouse, built at the corner of Adams and Perry Streets, was a stone structure forty feet high with walls four feet thick at the base. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1870 and the old stone tower was demolished in 1899. Following the rerouting of the Portage River, a new lighthouse was built at the end of the west pier in 1896. The wooden pyramidal structure operated until 1952, when it was moved to private property alongside the bank of the Portage River, largely forgotten until 2010 when the owner decided the aging light deserved a home along the Lake Erie shore once again. A group of concerned citizens created the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy which, with the help of personal contributions and grants, completed restoration of the lighthouse in 2014 and accomplished its return to the waterfront in 2016.
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Fremont, OH 43420
Home and museum open Mo-Su (Apr-Dec); Tu-Su (Jan-Mar); Open 9 am to 5 pm Independence Day and 12 noon to 5 pm other Federal holidays.
All facilities closed Mondays in Jan, Feb, Mar, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day.
Library is free and open to public from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Sunday and holidays.
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums houses 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes' Victorian mansion, a newly renovated museum, presidential library, tomb and a mile of paved walking trails through President Hayes' 25-acre wooded estate, known aas Spiegel Grove. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museum was founded on Memorial Day 1916. It is America's first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential libary system. It is partially funded by the State of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection.
Schedel Arboretum & Gardens
19255 W. Portage River South Rd.
Elmore, OH 43416
Regular hours annually May 1 through October 31
Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursdays 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (June-July-August & September only)
Sunday 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. (must enter by 3:00 p.m.)
The Mission of the Schedel Arboretum & Gardens is to "Offer life enriching experiences, for current and future generations, by providing unique opportunities for the appreciation and study of nature and the arts." The 17 acre garden estate is home to many unusual species of plant life uniquely incorporated into a landscape loving sculpted by human hands. Features include more than 10,000 annual flowering plants, a world class bonsai display, thirty foot waterfall leading to a Japanese Garden, many themed gardens and more than 20 pieces of large sculpture blended throughout the grounds. The Brown Welcome Center is home to the McAlear Gallery which plays host to the exhibits of art from local to international artisans. Visit our website for hours and more information.
Wolcott Keeper’s House
9999 E. Bayshore Road
Marblehead, OH 43440
Maintained by the Ottawa County Historical Society
Museum & Gift Shop open
June 16 to August 29
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
1:00 pm. to 5:00 p.m.
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
CLOSED Sunday, Monday and Friday
Home of Benajah and Rachel Wolcott, first keepers of the Marblehead Lighthouse. This is the oldest surviving home in Ottawa County. Built in 1822 of limestone from local quarries, it was the permanent home of the first three lighthouse keepers for the Marblehead Lighthouse.