Some lighthouse owners show them off as museums, while others turn them into living quarters or bed and breakfast establishments.
Along the thousands of miles of United States coastline sits hundreds of symbols of America’s love affair with the sea; lighthouses.
These picturesque structures once helped seafarers find ports and kept them from crashing into rocks that border the shorelines.
Today, most lighthouses are obsolete from a functional standpoint; technology has advanced beyond the need for a beacon to guide us. But most of the buildings remain, and many of them are still owned by the United States Coast Guard. The lighting capability for all of the Coast Guard lighthouses has been automated for years, but the Coast Guard still maintains them.
But not for long. After selling more than 100 of its lighthouses over the past 14 years, the Coast Guard has a list of 71 lighthouses of its remaining 254 properties as of September of 2014. It is currently running auctions on four lighthouses, with available properties in Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin.
So far, the Coast Guard has donated 68 lighthouses to preservation organizations, and has sold 36 at public auction as a result of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Under the Act, the General Services Administration is assigned to donate the lighthouses to accredited historical associations if requested; otherwise they can sell them at auction.
While the Coast Guard is nearing the end of an auction for the Halfway Rock Light Station near Harpswell, Maine (with a high bid reported at above $240,000), in 2013 it sold the Graves Island Light Station at Boston harbor for more than $900,000. The buyer was a man named Dave Waller, who is converting the lighthouse into a home that can be used as a vacation rental property.
There are lighthouses accessible only by boat, and there are lighthouses that require a large amount of repair. Still, the Coast Guard has reaped $3.35 million from its sale of lighthouses to date.
The National Lighthouse Museum is inside the Romer Shoal Lighthouse currently located at Staten Island in New Jersey.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.