If you’ve ever dreamed of moving into your own lighthouse, then the government might just help that dream come true.
The General Services Administration plans to sell four lighthouses through public auctions and give away six others to nonprofits and government entities, the agency announced in a news release. It’s a record number of lighthouses up for grabs during a summertime period the GSA refers to as “lighthouse season.”
Lighthouses were once powerful beacons that helped sailors and ships safely navigate dangerous waters and rocky coastlines. But technology and GPS have replaced these coastal watchtowers, and they’ve fallen into disrepair, the GSA said.
Bidding for the Stratford Shoal Middle Ground Light Station, which sits on a submerged reef in the middle of Long Island Sound midway between New York and Connecticut, starts at $10,000. The Penfield Reef Lighthouse off Fairfield, Connecticut, with its 19th century aesthetics and two-story keepers quarters, starts at $50,000.
Also available for bidding is the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light, which offers views of the Cleveland skyline, starting at $25,000, and the Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light, an early 20th century structure with 1,000 square feet of interior space at the southern end of the Portage River in Chassell, Michigan, starting at $10,000.
In addition, federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit corporations, and educational and community development organizations can apply for six other available lighthouses at no cost. They must maintain the historic structures and eventually make them available to the public for “education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes,” the GSA said.
They are the Lynde Point Lighthouse, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut; the Nobska Lighthouse, Falmouth, Massachusetts; Plymouth/Gurnet Lighthouse, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Warwick Neck Light, Warwick, Rhode Island; Little Mark Island and Monument, Harpswell, Maine; and the Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse, Erie, Pennsylvania.
If no organization applies or is approved for ownership, the six lighthouses also will be auctioned.
Auction sales have ranged from $10,000 to $933,888, the GSA said.
Congress passed the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000 to protect lighthouses and help transfer them to new owners. More than 150 lighthouses have been saved, including 81 transferred at no cost to local governments and nonprofit entities and about 70 sold at auction, raising more than $10 million for the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 2011, Sheila Consaul, a communications executive in Washington, D.C., bought the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, at auction for $71,000.
Consaul described Harbor West Lighthouse to the BBC as “amazingly calm and serene and pretty much in the middle of the lake with 360-degree views of the water. At night you can see stars everywhere.” But the renovations piled up, she said.
A total renovation of a lighthouse could cost thousands of dollars. New owners should expect to have to paint, clean, and possibly restore broken or missing items in the lighthouses or set up utilities to make them livable, the GSA said.