When a Boston entrepreneur bought the Graves Point Lighthouse at a public auction last year for $933,888, the sale made news in the Boston area. But perhaps the most newsworthy aspect of that story was the price tag. It turns out that the U.S. Government has divested itself of more than a hundred lighthouses in the last decade and a half, and it has at least another 71 that it would like to unload—even if the Feds have to give them away.
The Boston Globe has the story here (see "Plenty of Light! Feds are Selling off Lighthouses," by Patrick Whittle/Associated Press). "Sixty-eight of the lighthouses have gone for free to preservationists while 36 others sold at public auction thanks to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, which allows the government to dispose of federally-owned lighthouses," the paper reports.
But just because a lighthouse is free to acquire doesn't mean that it's free to own, reports the New York Times (see "Preserving the Lighthouse, Not Just the Light," by Clay Risen). Take the case of the Execution Rocks lighthouse in the Long Island Sound. "It was sold for a token $1 to a nonprofit run by Craig Morrison, a Philadelphia music producer, who plans to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast," the Times reports. "Mr. Morrison said he needed $1.2 million to get the lighthouse in working order. Unlike several of the Hudson lighthouses, Execution Rocks sits on a solid rock outcropping and is built of sturdy bricks, but it lacks things like running water and sewer access that a bed-and-breakfast would need. For now, Mr. Morrison raises money by giving $75 boat tours, from Port Washington, in Nassau County, once a month during the summer, with usually a half dozen or so intrepid souls paying $300 to stay overnight."