Marblehead and More

The Marblehead Peninsula on the Ohio side of Lake Erie is more than just the Lighthouse, as wonderful as that is. Also on the Peninsula are the Keeper's House and Jolly Roger's Seafood House. The Keeper’s House is the oldest surviving home in Ottawa County and Jolly Roger’s has been serving up locally-caught fried walleye and perch since 1980.

From 1822 to 1943, Marblehead Lighthouse had civilian lighthouse keepers. The first of these was Benajah Wolcott, a Revolutionary War veteran. The home he built with his wife, Rachel, was constructed of  limestone in 1822 at what is now 9999 Bayshore Road on the Danbury Peninsula.

The Wolcott Keeper's House is three miles away from the Lighthouse, which is where Ohio 163 becomes East Bayshore Road/135. The Keeper's House sits at the Tecumseh intersection, west of the Gaydos Drive/Johnson Island Causeway intersection.

The Wolcott House was closed during this visit, which was the afternoon of November 28, 2014, but it is open for tours during the in-season. (It replaced a log cabin that went up in 1809.) This hall-and-parlor house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991.

Benajah Wolcott rode his horse each evening during the shipping season to climb the Lighthouse, light the lamps, and stay until morning. He kept track of passing ships and weather for ten years until he died in 1832. Rachel kept the Lighthouse for two years until she remarried and her new husband took over.

Lighthouse builder William Kelly also built the Keeper's House. A hall-and-parlor home such as this was developed in 19th century England and had two chimneys. A single interior wall with a door separated a large square hall (all-purpose room) from a smaller parlor that was used for sleeping.

This is the back of the Wolcott House. Benajah originally purchased 114 acres when he first arrived. During the War of 1812, the Wolcotts fled because they feared an impending British invasion, but they came back when the war ended.

A cooking tripod stands in the back of the home. A chain hanging from the apex of the tripod regulates the distance between the cook pot and the fire. This in turn regulated the heat applied to the food. The Wolcotts probably cooked many suppers here on freezing November afternoons.

The Wolcott House is operated by the Ottawa County Historical Society. There are many events in-season, plus Civil War re-enactments by the Ohio 14th Volunteer Regiment. Note the apple tree on the side of the building here; there is a Johnny Appleseed tree next to the Wolcotts' storm cellar.

Jolly Roger's Seafood House is located in Port Clinton at 1737 E. Perry Street/Ohio 163, not far from the Marblehead Lighthouse. This is the best place to get fresh, local, breaded-and-deep fried walleye and perch. It usually closes at Thanksgiving, but in 2014 it would be open until December 14th.

This is the order window at Jolly Roger's, which is right next to the breading pit. Three sandwich platters (sandwich, waffle fries, coleslaw), one chicken strips platter, additional onion rings, three fountain drinks, one Powerade, eat-in with a dollar tip, was $44.67.

The breading pit is front-and-center at Jolly Roger's. The walleye and perch are locally caught and taste really fresh. The grouper that they offer is shipped frozen from Florida. This must be the only place in America where Key West and Lake Erie come together on one table.

If this were in-season, all the seating areas would be packed, according to the online reports of the Jolly Roger's experience. This image was taken about 6 pm on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and there was no wait. People can bring their own caught-and-cleaned walleye to be breaded in the pit.

The soda fountain was clean and the condiment bar next to it was well-stocked. There is also Powerade in the beverage case by the ordering window. The condiment bar had Heinz malt vinegar and ketchup. Coffee is available here. The nautical nonsense on the walls is as fun as the food.

This outside seating area would surely be packed in-season, but during November everyone is inside. The menu is limited with no desserts or beer. Jolly Roger's opens at 11 a.m., and during the off-season, it closes at 8 p.m. During the summer, there's no set closing time, and this place is just steps away from Lake Erie.

This is the walleye platter at Jolly Roger's. Unfortunately, a few waffle fries disappeared during the taking of this photo! The tartar sauce they use is whipped and seems to have a lighter taste than perhaps the tartar sauce at Frisch's Big Boy down the street.

This is the grouper sandwich platter. The menu items here are fried in canola oil. There are a variety of dinners here like snow scrod, shrimp, oyster, and a few combos but no salads. There is a kids' menu that includes hot dogs.

This is the chicken strips platter, with four strips, at $6.09. The child's plate has two strips, at $3.99. A packet of Marzetti sauce is provided for dipping. The fountain drink, Hi-C, is $2.09.

If only these walls could talk, they'd surely laugh out loud. The memorabilia comes from all over, from Sandusky Bay to Baffin Bay. The fourth license plate from the right says "CFOOD1." Jolly Roger's is about to close for the night, and then for the year, but everyone will surely be back next season.

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