On the Waterfront: Decommissioned Lighthouse Auctions

By Larry Bilotti | Updated Apr 6, 2013 3:10 PM

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Kenosha North Pierhead Lighthouse, Wisconsin, real estate

Kenosha North Pierhead Light, Wisconsin

With the advances in marine navigation systems—radio, satellite, and radar—the need for lighthouses to guide mariners along the nation’s coastlines has diminished, leaving many of these unique properties derelict and deserted. But thanks to a program sponsored by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Interior’s National Park Service, the mariner’s loss could be a homeowner’s gain.

Decommissioned lighthouses in California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico are now, or will soon be, up for auction through GSA-sponsored sales.

The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the governing agency overseeing the decommissions, is hoping that the properties will go to qualified historical groups, community preservation organizations, state and local organizations or other nonprofits looking to become stewards of preserving the historic significance of America’s nautical history. If no suitable steward is identified, the lighthouses will be auctioned to the general public.

Conneaut Harbor Lighthouse, ohio

Conneaut Harbor Breakwater Light, Ohio

Bids for the Kenosha North Pierhead Light in Wisconsin and Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light in Ohio were due this week, but you have until July 20th to put in a bid for the Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Light in Ohio. More properties are likely to go on the auction block in the weeks and months ahead.

While the prices for previously sold lighthouses have ranged between $10,000 and $250,000, the investment for upgrading and maintaining them can be considerable. As real estate goes: buyer beware!

For more information on decommissioned lighthouses for sale, visit the GSA website.

For more on buying and restoring a historic home, check out the following Bob Vila videos and features.  Be sure to join the conversation in our Forums:

Buying an Historic Home
Remodeling an Old House: What Should you Keep?
When Remodeling Uncovers Hidden Treasures