BOSTON – Buyers in the market for waterfront property might want to check out the government auction site for a chance to own one of several lighthouses that are up for bids.
The U.S. General Services Administration is offering the properties through its annual ‘Lighthouse Season,’ which is meant to preserve the historic sites.
During the summer auctions, four lighthouses will be available for public bidding, and another six will be offered to nonprofits, state and local entities and other private groups.
The agency said owning one of these landmarks does not come cheap – previous sales have ranged from $10,000 to $933,888, which does not include needed upkeep and restoration.
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Lighthouses were once considered a maritime necessity, warning of shallow bays and rocky coasts, but due to advancements in Global Positioning Systems, radar and other electronic navigation equipment, many are now known just for their vanities.
"While the U. S. Coast Guard may continue to maintain active aids to navigation at or near specific lighthouses, the structures themselves are often no longer critical to the USCG’s mission needs," the GSA stated.
Recognizing their history, congress passed the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000, which enabled the federal government to transfer ownership of the structures to private individuals and groups.
Under the act, educational, recreational, cultural and historical groups are given first choice, but if a suitable owner is not found, the property is then offered to the public through an online auction.
So far this season, the GSA said officials were not able to find groups to take over lighthouses in New York, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan.
Online auctions are expected to begin over the summer, and the agency warned that properties come ‘as is.’
"Costs for upkeep of lighthouses are relative to what the new owner plans to do. A total restoration could be thousands of dollars while a simple cleaning is much less. New owners should expect to have to paint, clean, and possibly restore broken or missing items. Most lighthouses do not have any utilities, so there would be a cost associated with making the lighthouse livable," the GSA said.
According to the United States Lighthouse Society, there are more than 700 lighthouses in the United States, and since 2000, around 150 have been transferred to private groups, local governments or private individuals.
To find out about the auctions, visit the GSA website.