The five potential buyers raised the $15,000 starting price for the Hooper Island lighthouse to the winning auction on September 22 by $192,000. The auction ended the next day after 24 hours without a single competing bid.
The new owner of the Hooper Island Lighthouse, whose identity remains private until final documentation is signed within 45 days of the date of sale, will be required to maintain the lighthouse as an active aid to navigation for the U.S. Coast Guard, preserve it to historic standards, and sign a memorandum of understanding with the Navy that designates when it can be viewed, said Will Powell, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) .
“We’ve had a lot of calls and a lot of interest from people at this property, and we’ve just started explaining to them…it’s what you do with it,” Powell said. “It’s a unique opportunity. And there are people who like headlights.
Since 2000—the year the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act took effect—the GSA has transferred approximately 148 lighthouses. This represents 82 free transfers to public entities, such as nonprofits, and 66 through public sales that raised more than $8 million. All proceeds, beyond the cost of the sale, go to federal agencies and the Treasury, Powell said.
Three lighthouses in the Florida Keys went up for auction earlier this year and “had very enthusiastic bidders,” with final prices ranging from $415,000 to $860,000, Powell said.
A Chesapeake Bay lighthouse is up for auction. So far, no one has bid on it.
But this particular headlight, affectionately called the “spark plug” by locals, is best described by what it can’t offer a new owner.
The lighthouse sits in the middle of the bay, three or four miles west of Middle Hooper Island, Dorchester County, Maryland, and has no nearby dock to which a boat can s moor, which means any visitor would have to navigate the waves and weather to tie up the boat. to the outer ladder of the lighthouse and climb up.
The property cannot be converted into an Airbnb or single vacation home. Even if it were possible, it would be a great undertaking because there is no water, sewer, electricity or gas. What was once a kitchen area is now empty.
An overnight stay is also complicated by the hazardous materials inside the structure, including lead-based paint, asbestos, benzene and a host of other hazardous substances, according to a 2019 inspection report.
Whenever the new owner decides to work on the lighthouse – which also has issues with erosion and paint that has peeled off from age and exposure to wind and salt – he is required to contact the Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWCAD) Aircraft Division. The lighthouse is in the northeast corner of a “surface danger zone”, meaning it is within the test range where the NAWCAD can release non-explosive ordnance such as practice bombs , inert missiles and aircraft rockets.
Owning and maintaining this lighthouse was even too difficult for the US Lighthouse Society, a national organization with over 3,000 members and the former owner of the lighthouse. The federal government, which has been seeking to offload the lighthouse since 2017, auctioned it off on behalf of the organization and decided to open the bids to the public after exhausting other options.
Greg Krawczyk, vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of the US Lighthouse Society, was happy to hear that someone had finally purchased the lighthouse.
“It now has a better chance of possibly being saved and restored,” Krawczyk said, adding that a high price tag is a good sign. “Someone had money; this is what you need.