The interior of Cooke Castle is not currently open to the public. The exterior can be viewed as part of our Gibraltar Island science and history tour.
Cooke Castle on Gibraltar Island was constructed in 1864 and 1865 by civil war financier Jay Cooke.
The castle was constructed using local limestone, and original carpentry work in the library and plaster features on the ceiling still remain today. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1966.
Located within Put-in-Bay harbor on South Bass Island, the island served as a summer residence for Cooke and his family until it was acquired by Ohio State University in 1925.
Renovation and rehabilitation of the castle building began in 1998 with roof replacements and window repairs, including the import of authentic period glass from France. Mortar restoration was completed in 2000, and construction of porches that followed the original exterior design completed the return of Cooke Castle to some of its former glory.
Ohio Sea Grant, the Friends of Stone Lab and The Ohio State University are now working to raise funds for interior renovations, and plan to turn the castle into a venue that hosts groups and policy makers working on issues related to science, education, the environment, the economy and other Lake Erie issues.
Support from businesses and individuals is encouraged. If you would like to support Ohio Sea Grant’s renovation efforts, tax-deductible donations to the Cooke Castle Fund can be made online or by mail.
Cooke is best known for his significant personal effort in raising funds to support the Union during the Civil War. Cooke came to the island at least twice each year, spending many hours with friends and family fishing the nearby waters of Lake Erie.