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Ever wonder what it would be like to own a lighthouse? If so, keep reading because the U.S. is giving away free or auctioning off a record number of 10 lighthouses this year. Which means your dream of owning one is actually feasible. Is this practical? Nope. Is it cool? Um, yes. I can already picture myself kicked back in my lighthouse sipping WaterTok concoctions from my Stanley tumbler as I write this.
In May of each year, the US General Services Administration (GSA) presents an opportunity to the public through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) to acquire lighthouses. This year, the GSA has announced it will be making an unprecedented offer of 10 lighthouses up for grabs. Six of these will be freebies, the other four will go to auction and the asking price will likely start around $15,000.
The purpose of the NHLPA, passed by Congress in 2000, is to save taxpayers money and protect and preserve these historic lighthouses by transferring ownership. Since 2000, over 150 lighthouses have had a change of possession. In total, 81 of these lighthouses were given away for free to local governments and nonprofits. And another 70 lighthouses were sold at auction to private owners. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a lighthouse, it’s your time to start hunting.
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This year, six free lighthouses are being given away.
The lighthouses up for grabs this year are free to federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofits, educational agencies, and community development organizations.
The six lighthouses available for free this year include:
- Erie Harbor North Pier Light in Erie, Pennsylvania
- Gurnet Light in Plymouth, Massachusetts
- Little Mark Island Monument (and a roughly one-acre island) in Harpswell, Maine
- Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
- Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth, Massachusetts
- Warwick Light in Warwick, Rhode Island.
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At least four lighthouses are up for public auction.
If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on one of these historic beacons, there are at least four available for bidding by the public this year. And any of the free lighthouses that aren’t scooped up by a nonprofit or government agency will also be available to buy. So you’ve got up to 10 chances to shoot your shot.
The four that are currently going to auction include:
- Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio
- Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Lighthouse in Chassell, Michigan
- Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield, Connecticut
- Stratford Shoal Light in East Setauket, New York.
In the past, these lighthouses have sold for as little as $10,000 and as much as close to $1,000,000. In 2022, this Chesapeake Bay lighthouse went on the market for $15,000 and a bidding war drove the price up to over $192,000. And in 2017, a lighthouse in Michigan received one bid of $10,000.
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The lighthouses are no longer needed with the use of GPS for navigation.
Why all the free lighthouses in the first place? Lighthouses, once vital for navigation, served as beacons guiding sailors through dangerous shores and hazards. Their purpose included identifying safe passages and entry points inland. However, with the rise of GPS technology, lighthouses have gradually lost their significance and are no longer as essential as they once were.
But as many of these lighthouses are over a century old, the goal is to preserve them and give them the care and maintenance they need so people continue enjoying them for years into the future.