For all their centuries-old practicality, lighthouses remain among the most romantic architecture of the human imagination. Lighthouses have lined American ocean shores and the rocky outcroppings of the Great Lakes since the 17th Century. Alas, with the advancement of GPS maritime systems, shipping can find its way around dangerous shoals in pitch dark.
Now, many lighthouses have fallen into disrepair and the lights staffed throughout American history by the Coast Guard are crumbling into the sea. In 2000, Congress enacted the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, putting some 200 American lighthouses up for adoption.
Lighthouse conversions are still a romantic notion, but the need to repair or retrofit many of the unique buildings in disuse has limited the transfer so far to only 76 of the lights. Most are made into residential conversions.
Lighthouse conversion, make offer
The Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse is a great buy for those who love doing laundry naturally and for its winding staircase. It comes with a great vista of Lake Michigan. You may want to order a new set of storm windows.
Amazing house exteriors on Lake Superior
Built in 1896, the Big Bay Light Point, a seven-bedroom complex on 33 acres in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1980s. It originally cost $25,000 to construct the light and compound. While not part of the Coast Guard surplus, it is for private sale now with a $999k asking price. Pretty sweet spot, isn’t it?
Light housekeeping required
For those who prefer the Jersey Shore, the Romer Shoal Light Station is located just north of Sandy Hook. Be warned: it needs some work. The tower is said to be rusting and the windows are broken. You should fit the place with thermal windows before you move in. Under the Coast Guard terms, the lighthouse is “made available at no cost to eligible entities defined as Federal agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations for educational, park, recreational, cultural or historic preservation purposes.“ Read more about it at Lighthouse Friends.
And honey, I’ll leave a light on for you.