Lighthouse sale draws $78K bid off cost of Portland, Maine
PORTLAND, Maine — The tallest lighthouse in New England will likely soon have a new owner.
The federal government on Sunday closed out an auction for Boon Island Light Station, with the top bidder offering $78,000 for the lighthouse built in 1855 on a tiny rocky island 6 miles off Maine's coast.
Government officials now have 30 days to evaluate the top bid and close the deal, said Patrick Sclafani, spokesman for the General Services Administration. The winning bidder will be identified at that time.
More than a dozen bidders were vying for the historic lighthouse.
The new ownership will be the start of a new chapter in the odd history of Boon Island, where the English ship Nottingham Galley ran aground in 1710 in one of New England's most infamous shipwrecks. The island's first lighthouse, built for the War of 1812, was established about a century later, and the original tower was destroyed by weather in 1831, according to bidding documents.
The keeper's house and ancillary buildings are gone, leaving the property an isolated island off York with a 133-foot granite tower, said Jeff Gales, executive director of the United States Lighthouse Society.
“This is a very desolate place,” Gales said. “And you can imagine what it would look like in the wintertime.”
Bidding on the lighthouse, which is active as a navigational aid, began in May and was originally set to end about noon on Aug. 12, but the government extended it. Bidding documents say the Coast Guard will continue to own and maintain the light itself.
The federal government has sold or transferred more than 100 lighthouses since 2000, with 68 transferred at no cost to preservationists and 36 sold by auction to the public, according to data provided by the U.S. Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Some lighthouses, because of their location or condition, can be hard to sell — such as the Minots Ledge Light, which is on a reef off Scituate, Mass., and hasn't attracted a single bid in seven weeks on the block. Others fetch a high price — Graves Island Light Station at the mouth of Boston Harbor went for a record $933,888 last year. Many avoid the auctioneer's gavel because they are handed over to preservation societies that maintain them as historic landmarks.
“The ones that are offshore, on reefs, on tiny islands, those are the ones the nonprofits just don't have the resources to care for,” said Kraig Anderson, who runs a lighthouse database called LighthouseFriends.com.
Boon Island's lighthouse is the tallest in New England, though it's not the highest above sea level in Maine — that honor belongs to the Seguin Light at the Kennebec River's mouth. It is one of Maine's 57 active lighthouses.
The federal government is also auctioning Halfway Rock Light Station in Maine's Casco Bay. So far it has attracted three bids topping out at $56,000.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tighter payday loan rules intended to shield debtors
- Search for less-invasive avenue for brain surgery leads to eyelid, UPMC surgical team
- Cancer rates plunge 22% over 20 years
- Super snowy Sunday: Chicago buried; thousands of flights grounded
- Fine weighed in North Carolina river coal ash spill
- Navy abandons ‘global force for good’ to broaden appeal
- Woman gives birth to baby boy on side of Utah highway
- Pregnant smokers persuaded to quit with free diapers
- Goats offered as alternative for clearing area of plutonium
- ‘Drink of the Devil’ unites formerly feuding families
- Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list