An Unwanted and Inhospitable Lighthouse Finally Sells

Hooper Island Lighthouse went for way more than the starting price
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2022 12:08 PM CDT
An Unwanted and Inhospitable Lighthouse Finally Sells
The Hooper Island Lighthouse, located in Dorchester County, Md.   (Getty Images/karenfoleyphotography)

The federal government has sold off a rather inhospitable lighthouse in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay for a six-figure sum after a bidding war at auction. The Hooper Island Lighthouse, located west of Middle Hooper Island in Maryland's Dorchester County, at first drew little interest, reported the Washington Post, which said the government had endeavored to unload it on behalf of the US Lighthouse Society since 2017. But then five potential buyers drove up the price from a starting bid of $15,000 to the winning bid of $192,000 in late September. Will Powell, a spokesman for the US General Services Administration, told the newspaper the lighthouse comes with strings attached, reports the AP.

The new owners must maintain it as a Coast Guard navigational aid, observe historic preservation standards, and sign a memorandum of agreement with the Navy about when it can be accessed. They aren't permitted to spend the night unless it's during the course of performing maintenance or renovation work, which must be approved in advance. Not that the interior would be all that inviting for an overnight stay: A 2019 inspection found lead-based paint, asbestos, benzene, and other dangerous substances inside, where there's no water, electricity, other utilities, or kitchen.

The rusting lighthouse known locally as the "sparkplug" has an outer ladder but no dock for a boat to moor, meaning the owner will need to tie up to that ladder when visiting. It also falls within a "surface danger zone," putting it within an area where the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division of the Navy can release nonexplosive ordnance like practice bombs. Still, "it is a unique opportunity," Powell told the Post. "And there are people out there that love lighthouses." The new owner's identity won't be known until final documentation is signed. (More strange stuff stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.