The US is auctioning or giving away 10 lighthouses

Ten lighthouses that for generations have stood like sentinels along the shores of America protecting sailors from danger and guiding them to safety. given free of charge or sold at auction of the federal government.

The purpose of the program operated by the General Services Administration is to preserve the properties, many of which are more than a century old.

Advances in modern technology, including GPS, mean lighthouses are no longer necessary for navigation, said John Kelly of the GSA’s office of real property disposition. And while the Coast Guard often maintains navigational aids at or near lighthouses, the structures themselves are often no longer mission-critical.

Yet the public remains fascinated by the beacons, which are popular tourist attractions and the subject of countless photographers and artists.

“People really appreciate the heroic role of the lone lighthouse keeper,” he said, explaining their appeal. “They are really the instruments to provide safe passage to some of these dangerous harbors that give the communities many opportunities for commerce, and they are often located in prominent places that offer breathtaking views. “

GSA has been transferring ownership of lighthouses since Congress passed the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000. About 150 lighthouses have been moved, 80 or so have been given away and another 70 have been auctioned off, raising more than $10 million. .

This year, six lighthouses are being offered free of charge to federal, state or local government agencies, nonprofits, educational organizations or other entities willing to maintain and preserve them and make them available to the public for educational, entertainment or cultural purposes.

This includes the 34-foot (10.4-meter) Plymouth/Gurnet Light in Massachusetts. The octagonal wooden structure dates to 1842, although a lighthouse has been on the site since 1768. A former beacon on the site was staffed by America’s first female lighthouse keeper.

Kelly’s personal favorite is the Warwick Neck Light, in Warwick, Rhode Island. The 51-foot (15.5-meter) tall lighthouse that dates back to 1827 was an important navigational tool for sailors heading to Providence.

“Warwick Neck is really in a prominent location on a bluff overlooking Narragansett Bay,” he said. “That’s probably one that I would say has a real ‘Wow’ factor when you go out and look at it.”

Other lighthouses offered free of charge are Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook, Connecticut; Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth, Massachusetts; Little Mark Island and Monument in Harpswell, Maine; and Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse in Pennsylvania.

Some are already maintained by nonprofits, and agencies have the opportunity to apply to continue doing so, Kelly said.

If a new owner is not found, the lighthouse is offered for competitive bidding at auction.

The four lighthouses up for auction include the Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light, a 50-foot (15.5-meter) steel tower dating from 1911 that’s only accessible by boat but has spectacular views of the skyline. in the city.

Others are the Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield, Connecticut; Stratford Shoal Light in the middle of Long Island Sound between New York and Connecticut; and Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light in Chassell, Michigan.

Some of the lighthouses bought in the past have been converted into private residences by people who want a unique living situation.

“They all have their own interesting history,” Kelly said.

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