Looking for a spot with a waterfront view? The government may have a deal for you.
The General Services Administration said Friday it was giving away six lighthouses to nonprofits or government agencies that promise to keep them, and planned to sell four more to the public at auction.
The lighthouses are located on some of the most picturesque waters in New England and the Midwest. But aspiring lighthouse keepers should be prepared to do some repair work before living out their 19th-century maritime fantasies.
Many of the majestic lighthouses, which were once vital to protecting mariners from coral reefs and rocky shores, have fallen into disrepair and disrepair as navigation technology has advanced into the age of GPS.
Some can only be accessed by boat, such as the Stratford bench lightperched on a submerged bluff in the middle of Long Island Sound, midway between the New York and Connecticut coasts, and the 51-foot-tall octagonal Penfield Reef Lighthouse off Fairfield, Connecticut which includes a two story house with caretaker’s quarters.
The 68-foot tall is also available for auction Keweenaw Fairway Lower Entrance Lightin Chassell, Michigan, which opened in 1919 and marks the southern end of the Portage River, and the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse at the entrance to the Port of Cleveland, overlooking that city’s skyline.
« They’re such unusual reflections of our history that it takes a certain type of person who wants to be a part of them, » GSA administrator Robin Carnahan said in an interview on Friday.
In addition to the four headlights up for auction, six headlights were offered free to local, state and federal agencies, non-profits, educational groups and community development organizations who have the money to maintain them and who promise to make them available to the public on a « reasonable time and on reasonable terms, » the GSA said.
They are: Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Plymouth (Gurnet) Lighthouse in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Warwick Neck Lighthouse in Warwick, RI, Little Isle Mark and Monument in Harpswell, Maine, and the Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse in Erie, Pennsylvania. The initial bidding phase for the Erie Lighthouse recently closed, the GSA said.
Since Congress passed a law authorizing the government to transfer ownership of lighthouses in 2000, more than 150 lighthouses have been given to new owners, of which 81 have been given to state, local and non-profit agencies and about 70 they were auctioned off.
Auction prices range from $10,000 to $933,888, according to the GSA
Sheila Consaul, a communications consultant in Washington, DC, bought the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, Ohio for about $71,000 at a GSA auction in 2011, and turned it into a summer home.
From Mrs. Consaul red and white lighthousewhich was built on Lake Erie in 1925, is still a functioning navigational aid, with a solar-powered lighthouse operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and a weather station operated by the National Weather Service, he said.
“I think my favorite part is saving such an icon,” Ms. Consaul said. « She has all the things a nice summer house on the water would have, but it’s so sentimental to so many people in those small towns where they are. »
However, he cautioned potential bidders to consider that many lighthouses lack basic amenities and were built in remote locations that aren’t easily accessible to contractors. She said it took her nine years to get running water in her lighthouse.
Still, that « very long journey » was worth it, Ms. Consaul said. She said she loves inviting people from the community to see inside, watch the sunset and look at the stars.
« There are some incredibly amazing sights, as well as history and intrigue, » he said. « All those things people think about lighthouses are true. »