The Washington Post

Government wants you to run lighthouses

Looking to take care of a lighthouse? The General Services Administration says it will convey a dozen of them along the Eastern Seaboard and the Great Lakes to qualifying state or local governments, nonprofit organizations, historic preservation groups or community development organizations.

GSA will allow the qualifying organizations to maintain the lighthouses under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. Since enactment, GSA has conveyed 84 lighthouses.

The law was created because the Coast Guard fell behind in maintaining the structures.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said James Hyland, president of the Lighthouse Preservation Society, which was involved in shaping the law. “Basically it allows the Coast Guard to do its job in lighting the structures, and it allows local groups and governmental agencies to find interesting, adaptive reuses that will appeal to the general public.”

Hyland said some keepers houses could be used as inns, for example, and lighthouses could be turned into museums.

The closest lighthouse to the District that’s up for grabs is the Liston Rear Range Light in Delaware. Still operational, the Liston is a wrought-iron conical structure built in 1877. The other available lighthouses are scattered from Florida up to Maine and over to Michigan.

The federal government will officially own the lighthouses, but enthusiasts would have the opportunity to maintain them. The transaction typically takes 12 to 18 months to complete, said a GSA spokesman.


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