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Free to a good home: Two Rhode Island lighthouses

The US Coast Guard says they no longer need them. Any interest?

The Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, R.I.Jeremy D'Entremont/Handout

PROVIDENCE — They have sweeping ocean views and historic significance, but after decades of service, the Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown and Watch Hill Lighthouse in Westerly are no longer needed by the US Coast Guard.

The two lighthouses are being offered for free to qualifying public entities, the General Services Administration announced Thursday.

Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, those who can apply to own the lighthouses at no cost include government agencies, nonprofits, educational agencies or community development organizations, or groups dedicated to parks and recreation and cultural or historic preservation.

If there is no one recommended to be a steward of these lighthouses, the GSA will sell the properties according to procedures in the lighthouse preservation act, which is generally by auction, said spokesman Paul Hughes. Right now, neither are available for public sale.


Both of these postcard-beautiful properties are on the National Register of Historic Places. They will remain active navigation aids operated by the Coast Guard.

The Watch Hill Lighthouse Tower, built in 1855, is a three-story, square rockface granite block tower, topped with a cast iron and glass lantern. The attached keeper’s dwelling is a two-story brick structure built in 1935. There is also an oil house built in 1855-1856, a brick signal house built in the early 20th century, and a garage/workshop built in 1939. The lighthouse and buildings sit on 4.5 acres on a peninsula accessible by Lighthouse Road.

The Watch Hill lighthouse is an active aid to navigation operated by the US Coast Guard.

The Beavertail Lighthouse, at the tip of Conanicut Island in Jamestown, faces south toward Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay. The historic 64-foot granite lighthouse was built in 1856, with six ancillary structures totaling 5,171 square feet.

It faces the foundation of the original lighthouse, which was built in 1749 and burned by the British soldiers as they left the Newport area in 1779.


Other lighthouses in Rhode Island have landed in the hands of trusts over the years. The Rose Island Lighthouse, built in 1870, was deeded to the city of Newport in 1985 and restored in 1993. The lighthouse and island are open to the public and maintained by the Rose Island Lighthouse and Fort Hamilton Trust.

The Plum Beach Lighthouse, built in 1899 at the Plum Beach shoals, was abandoned in 1941 after the construction of the Jamestown Bridge. It was eventually deeded to the Friends of the Plum Beach Lighthouse in 1999 and restored over time.

Any organization interested in owning the lighthouses is asked to submit a letter of interest to the GSA within 60 days. The letters must include the name of the requested property, name and contact information of the interested entity, and nonprofit agencies must provide a copy of their articles of incorporation.

Those who are determined to be eligible will receive further application details from the National Park Service and given an opportunity to inspect the property.

Carlos Munoz of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.