'Record Number' of Lighthouses Up for Grabs

GSA is offering 6 of the obsolete structures for free, with another 4 on the auction block
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2023 10:11 AM CDT
Looking to Own a Lighthouse? This May Be Your Lucky Day
Stock photo of Nobska Lighthouse, in Falmouth, Massachusetts.   (Getty Images/CaptureLight)

If you've always pined to own your very own lighthouse—and Willem Dafoe hasn't scared you off of the prospect—now's your chance. Each May, the General Services Administration offers lighthouses to the public under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, so that any of the federally owned historical structures in danger of crumbling away into obscurity have a chance to be preserved for posterity, per Insider. This year, the GSA says it has a "record number" of lighthouses up for grabs—including six for free. Those freebies include one each in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and Pennsylvania, and two in Massachusetts.

The "free" comes with a catch, though: Only federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofits, educational agencies, and community development organizations qualify to have ownership rights transferred at no cost. New owners must also be "financially able to maintain the historic light station, and make the station available for education, park, recreation, cultural, or historic preservation purposes for the public at reasonable times and under reasonable conditions."

That doesn't mean all is lost for regular folks who want a piece of the lighthouse-owning action. The GSA is also placing four lighthouses in Connecticut, New York, Ohio, and Michigan on the auction block. Plus, if the lighthouses offered for free don't move, they'll also be put up for auction. If you're wondering how much being a lighthouse owner might set you back once you own the structure, the agency notes that "a total restoration could be thousands of dollars, while a simple cleaning is much less."

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Also, owners "should expect to have to paint, clean, and possibly restore broken or missing items," as well as pay utility bills to make the lighthouse habitable (the Guardian notes that some lighthouses scooped up in the past have been turned into private residences). As for why the government is trying to get rid of so many lighthouses in the first place: Modern GPS technology has rendered the structures, whose beacons used to guide sailors through storms and darkness, mostly obsolete. (Read more lighthouse stories.)

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