Want to buy a Great Lakes lighthouse? Act now

Kenosha North Pierhead Light on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Image: U.S. General Services Administration

Bid for one of three Great Lakes lighthouses up for auction and you could end up owning it.

But act fast. Bidding ends today for two of them:

And if you need a little more time to consider taking the plunge into such unusual real estate, bidding for the Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Light on Lake Erie in Ohio ends July 20. The current bid is $5000.

What’s more, a state or local agency, non-profit organization, lighthouse group or historical society could own one of another four Great Lakes lighthouses for no cost at all.

Great Lakes lighthouses offered by the federal government to such organizations include:

MICHIGAN

WISCONSIN

“Lighthouses have become functionally obsolete,” said Arthur Ullenberg, realty specialist for the U. S. General Services Administration, “So many advancements have been made in navigation technology; in this day and age, you can have a beacon on a pole instead of a whole light house that someone has to man.”

When the U.S. Coast Guard, which owns, operates and maintains all lighthouses, decides to give up a lighthouse, it informs the U.S. General Services Administration, says Terry Pepper, executive director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association.

Then in partnership with the National Park Service issues a notice informing interested groups of the lighthouse’s availability, according to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.

Agencies or groups interested in obtaining the lighthouse fill out an application and submit a letter of interest explaining how they would restore, maintain and use it, which is reviewed by the National Park Service.

Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Light on Lake Erie in Ohio. Image: U.S. General Services Administration

Applicants must inform the U.S. Coast Guard about how they plan on restoring, maintaining, and managing the lighthouse if they are to obtain it, said Pepper. The lighthouse must be used kept open for the public, restored and maintained by the new owner.

“If a group applies, they usually understand these rules,” he said, “So somebody always get the lighthouse.”

The Milwaukee Breakwater Light has received three letters of interest, said Ullenberg.

After Aug. 1, the National Park Service will decide who the new owners of this lighthouse which has an art deco interior.

Even if you’re not part of a preservation group, you may have a shot at these if you wait. In case there is no interest in a lighthouse, or the National Park Service does not deem any applicant able to maintain it, , an auction is opened up to private parties.

New owners must allow the Coast Guard to enter the lighthouse to maintain or repair the light it holds, said Pepper.

All 300 lighthouses nationwide will slowly be offered by the National Park Service, said Ullenberg.

“The General Services Administration is committed to ensuring these national beacons of light are given to the correct people,” said Gail Montenegro, regional spokesperson for the General Services Administration.

  • Daniel R

    Interested in buying and maintaining a lighthouse, just for posterity’s sake. I understand the public use and access by the Coastguard rules, basically. Is there some fine print I should be aware of?