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3 Lighthouses Up for Auction

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

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Have you ever dreamed of owning a historic lighthouse?

Well, your wish could become a reality, but be warned: the restoration and upkeep of these maritime marvels can be costly.

The federal government’s landlord is looking to find new owners for three aging light stations located in waters off the coast of Connecticut as part of its National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program.


The Greens Ledge Light was built in 1901. It is one of three lighthouses the federal government is looking to unload.

The structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and “offer a unique view into our coastal history,” Robert Zarnetske, U.S. General Services Administration’s New England Regional Administrator, said in an announcement on the public sale.

Beacons for Sale

The following beacons are on the auction block, according to the GSA.

  • Greens Ledge Light: Built in 1901, this lighthouse is located near Norwalk, CT, on Long Island Sound. It is a “spark-plug” style offshore light consisting of a 39-foot circular foundation pier and a four-story former keeper’s dwelling with a circular parapet and lantern. The lighthouse is currently an active navigational aid operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Southwest Ledge Light: Constructed in 1876, this light is situated at the east side of the entrance to the New Haven Harbor. It is a 45-foot, eight-sided cast iron structure with a unique two-story mansard roof detailed in Second Empire style. The light will remain an active aid to navigation after the sale.
  • Penfield Reef Light: Built in 1874, the structure is located off the coast of Fairfield in western Long Island Sound at the south side of the entrance to Black Rock Harbor. Towering 51 feet, the octagonal wood and granite structure features a black lantern and a two-floor keeper’s quarters. The structure was damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Since then, the USCG has worked to restore it so that it may be sold at auction.

The Bidding Process

GSA is offering the lighthouses via an online auction at realestatesales.gov. Interested bidders must complete a registration form and submit a registration deposit.

Further, the GSA says that before conveyance, the purchaser must sign a lease agreement with the state of Connecticut, as the structures occupy submerged lands owned by the state.

Unloading Lighthouses

GSA has been flushing its lighthouse inventory since 2000, often disposing of structures that are no longer determined critical to the Coast Guard’s work.

To date, more than 121 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership.

While the structures are sometimes purchased on the cheap, renovation often requires some deep pockets. For example, the Execution Rocks lighthouse in New York's Long Island Sound sold for just $1—but the buyer spent $1.2 million to restore the structure to its former glory.


Tagged categories: General Services Administration; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance programs; National Park Service

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