Friday, July 9, 2010

Wanna buy a lighthouse?

Under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, if no suitable applicant -- such as a nonprofit group or a community -- is found for a historic lighthouse after it has been excessed by the Coast Guard, the property is sold by the GSA to the general public via an online auction. At least a dozen lighthouses have now been auctioned, including several in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Currently, there are four offshore lighthouses up for auction -- click here to see the list and current bids. The four are Borden Flats Light in Fall River, Massachusetts (see stories below); Latimer Reef Light in Fishers Island Sound, New York; Old Orchard Shoal Light and West Bank Light in New York Harbor, NY; and Ram Island Ledge Light off Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Latimer Reef has gotten a $15,000 bid, and Ram Island Ledge has a $10,000 bid. There have been no bids to date on the others.

All I can hope is that the parties who buy these priceless historic buildings realize their value to the nation as a whole, and that they give them the care they deserve. What will happen when the buyers eventually die? Will succeeding heirs possess the passion needed to care for these structures, which are extremely expensive to maintain over time? All we can do is hope for the best.

Photo: Old Orchard Shoal Light, New York.

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