Established in 1895, Stone Laboratory is the oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States and the center of Ohio State University’s teaching and research on Lake Erie. The lab serves as a base for more than 65 researchers from 12 agencies and academic institutions, all working year-round to solve the most pressing problems facing the Great Lakes.
In addition to its role as a research facility, Stone Lab offers 25 college-credit science courses each summer for undergraduate and graduate students, advanced high school students and educators. The hands-on sessions get students out into the field or out on the lake to study courses including biology, geology and natural resources.
The Gem of Lake Erie. Gib. The Rock. Gibraltar Island has many names and a long history. Originally a territory of the state of Connecticut, it was purchased by New York banker Pierpont Edwards in 1807. Soon after, it became a key in the War of 1812 when, on September 10, 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry used the island as a lookout point to spot the approaching British fleet before the Battle of Lake Erie.
Jose DeRivera, a New York capitalist, bought the island from Edwards in 1854. In 1864, Jay Cooke purchased the island for $3,001 and almost immediately began construction on the 15-room Cooke Castle, which still stands on the island. The Cooke family visited the island at least twice each summer for nearly 60 years, entertaining hundreds of guests, including Salmon P. Chase, General William Tecumseh Sherman and President Rutherford B. Hayes.
After the death of Jay Cooke in 1905, the island passed into possession of his daughter, Laura Barney. The Barneys made frequent visits to Put-in-Bay until 1925, when they sold Gibraltar to philanthropist and Ohio State University Board of Trustees member Julius F. Stone.
Stone presented the deed to the island to the Board as a permanent home for the Lake Laboratory. The Board accepted the offer and moved to establish the lab on Gibraltar, changing its name from Lake Laboratory to Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory after Julius’ father. The 21-room Laboratory Building, Dining Hall, Stone Cottage and Gibraltar House were completed in 1928, and classes were first offered there in 1929.
Aerial Photo Credits: Focal Plane Photography, LLC.