fb-pixel Skip to main content

Feds putting several New England lighthouses up for auction, transfer to nonprofits

Nobska Lighthouse in Falmouth.GSA/Handout

Real estate opportunity, straight ahead.

The federal government is offloading at least 10 lighthouses in New England and elsewhere to nonprofits and the public through a combination of transfers and auctions as part of the annual Lighthouse Season overseen by agencies including the General Services Administration, the GSA said Friday.

The annual rite, the GSA said in a statement, stems from the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act passed in 2000 to allow for the transfer of the historic landmarks from the US Coast Guard to new owners.

Initially, officials said, the feds issue what’s known as a Notice of Availability, or NOA, indicating a lighthouse is available for transfer at no cost to parties such as federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofits, educational agencies, and community development organizations, the statement said.


Groups can apply to take ownership of a lighthouse listed in an NOA, and applicants must have the funds to maintain the structure and make it available for public educational and recreational purposes “at reasonable times and under reasonable conditions,” the GSA said.

Currently, there are six NOAs on offer, including two lighthouses in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island.

The listings are for Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole in Falmouth, Mass.; Plymouth/Gurnet Lighthouse in Plymouth, Mass.; Warwick Neck Lighthouse in Warwick, R.I.; Little Mark Island and Monument in Harpswell, Maine; Lynde Point Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, Conn.; and Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse in Erie, Pa.

The statement said the application period for the Erie lighthouse recently closed. The application deadline for the others wasn’t immediately available.

“If no selected steward is approved, we may auction the property to the public,” the GSA said.

The agency already plans to auction four lighthouses to the public in June.

Those four are the Penfield Reef Lighthouse, in Fairfield, Conn.; Stratford Shoal Light in East Setauket, N.Y.; Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio; and Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Lighthouse in Chassell, Mich., according to the GSA.


The Plymouth lighthouse, GSA said, is 34 feet high with with a cast iron lantern and houses a modern beacon. It was originally built in 1768.

The Plymouth (Gurnet) lighthouse.GSA/Handout

“In 1901, the northern light was torn down, however the foundation remains preserved on site,” the agency said. “The lighthouse is an active aid to navigation (ATON) operated by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) powered by electricity and includes a fog signal horn.”

The GSA said the Nobska Lighthouse at Woods Hole was built in 1876.

“The tower height is 40 feet and is capped with a standard cast iron lantern,” the agency said. “It currently houses a fourth order Fresnel lens which will be retained by the USCG. ... The keeper’s quarters are cape style wood frame buildings with gabled roofs.”

Lunar eclipse over Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole in 2007. Greene, Bill Globe Staff

The Warwick lighthouse, GSA said, comes in even taller at 51 feet.

“Along with the lighthouse, the .8 acre property is improved with a single-family dwelling with basement, detached garage, and a storage shed,” the agency said.

Warwick Neck Lighthouse in Warwick, R.I.GSA/Handout

Lighthouse Season has been a boon for the Coast Guard over the last two decades, according to GSA.

Since 2000, GSA said, “over 150 lighthouses have been conveyed to new owners, including 81 lights to local governments and nonprofit entities through no-cost transfers and about 70 sold via public auction, which raised over $10 million dollars for the USCG to reinvest in its Aids to Navigation mission.”


Auction sales, the agency said, have ranged from $10,000 to $933,888.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.