You can buy a lighthouse. What would you do with it? The Boon Island Light Station sits in the Gulf of Maine about six miles off the coast of York, Maine. It is New England's tallest at 133-feet (AP photos)
You can buy a lighthouse. What would you do with it?
Lexile

Lighthouses for sale! Actually, lots of lighthouses for free.

Technological advances and a desire to purge unneeded properties have paved the way for the federal government to get rid of more than 100 lighthouses over the last 14 years. And it intends to keep selling and giving them away. The sold lighthouses, located on both coasts and in the Great Lakes states, have become everything from museums to bed-and-breakfasts.

Dave Waller, who purchased the Graves Island Light Station in the mouth of Boston Harbor for a record $933,888 last year, is retrofitting the turn-of-the-century lighthouse into a private home that can double as a vacation rental. He's trying to fashion a bedroom as far as possible from the foghorn. It's a challenging feat in a building with about 750 feet of livable space.

"It just seemed like a chance to have something a little more independent and on your own," Waller said.

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 Coast Guard, which maintains lighthouses, has 71 other lighthouses ready up to go through the transfer process, and four are at auction now.

The Coast Guard owns 254 light houses, officials said. The question is more about which ones it will keep than which ones it will eventually sell, said Jeff Gales, executive director of the nonprofit U.S. Lighthouse Society.

"There is an end in sight," Gales said. "There's a limited number of lighthouses."

The federal General Services Administration, which sells the lighthouses, is the nearing the end of an online auction for the Halfway Rock Light Station off of Harpswell, Maine. The lighthouse is attracting interest, with a half dozen bidders and a high bid of more than $240,000. That's a good figure for a lighthouse that is only accessible by boat, Gales said.

Some of the lighthouses typically those that are easily accessed on land are transferred swiftly to historic preservation groups, while others that are off-shore or in need of heavy maintenance languish on the auction block with no interested bidders. Still others attract the eye of private investors, such as Boston's Waller.

The government also is currently auctioning lighthouses in Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Critical thinking challenge: How does the government benefit from selling the lighthouses, in both the short term and the long term?

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COMMENTS (18)
  • Maxha-Fre
    9/09/2014 - 01:12 p.m.

    Wow! To own a lighthouse would be....interesting. I like the idea of turning a lighthouse into a bed an breakfast. The government could probably use the money that they were using to keep the lighthouses in shape could be used for better objectives.

  • Stephenpa-Fre
    9/09/2014 - 01:13 p.m.

    If I really did buy this light house even tho I'm not really going to buy it. I would fix it up and make a house bye it because you own the land to so why not live by it. I would find that really awesome but maybe that is just me. A nice little house right next to your vary own light house that you can do what ever you want with it. If you didnt want to keep it you could even sell it for a profit. If you really wanted to do that.

  • KAnthony-Cas
    9/09/2014 - 08:56 p.m.

    I think it would be very cool to own a lighthouse. You can do many things with it such as a hotel to a museum. I personally would not buy one because of the exspenses

  • TF00Music
    9/10/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    The government benefits fro selling the lighthouses because number one they're making us of the light houses. Number two if they auction off the light houses, the government itself would get money from the auction. The free ones on the other hand, people would make good use of them even though they'd be old.

  • andy3-Bor
    9/10/2014 - 01:09 p.m.

    I think it would be a pretty cool idea to own one! i would throw party's there !!!! but i can not imagine how expensive it would be to buy one especially if it is on a island

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    9/11/2014 - 02:36 p.m.

    What an interesting opportunity! When i saw i lighthouse, i often wondered what would become of them after they, as a tool, became obsolete. It is great to see that they are giving them to the care of private owners, rather than simply tearing them down.

  • nicksa-Mil
    9/12/2014 - 11:20 a.m.

    The topic of this article is that the government is selling old lighthouses. This is good because there are too many unused lighthouses due to advancing technology. I predict that wealthy people will buy them just as an interesting property. I bet that some people might renovate them into interesting buildings. Even if I had enough money, I would not buy a lighthouse.

  • icegits
    9/12/2014 - 02:00 p.m.

    I think that it would be so cool to own a light house of your own. you could have a ship and the light house would show your way home. i think that the government benefits from this because it is like someone running a light house and the people are paying them to run it!

  • SPhilip-Cas
    9/13/2014 - 08:14 p.m.

    If I could buy a lighthouse I would try to furnish the inside and make it live-able. I have seen pictures of people turning lighthouses into some very nice homes and I think it would be a great idea. You would get a great view and a spacious and comfortable living space.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    9/15/2014 - 02:28 p.m.

    It was kinda of interesting to read about what lighthouses can be used for and such, but I don't think that I would ever personally want to purchase a lighthouse. Also, I think lighthouses are interesting and unique and by allowing everyone to have one, it takes away to purpose of them.

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