A buyer is sought for lighthouse

GSA puts century-old Point No Point beacon on sale, but no online bids as of yesterday

October 17, 2007|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN REPORTER

The U.S. General Services Administration has put the Point No Point Lighthouse up for sale, giving any average citizen with at least a few thousand dollars the chance to own a piece of Chesapeake Bay history.

The century-old lighthouse in Southern Maryland is about five nautical miles from Point Lookout and 15 nautical miles south of Solomons Island.

The structure is 30 feet around and about 52 feet high, with the keeper's quarters, fuel storage area and lantern room all in one place. It is a caisson-style lighthouse, in which a large cast-iron cylinder is sunk on the bottom and filled with rock and concrete to form a foundation.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Maryland section incorrectly reported a dimension of the Point No Point Lighthouse in Southern Maryland. The structure is 30 feet in diameter.

The buyer won't get the land that the lighthouse sits on, and the structure includes no public utilities. The GSA warns that asbestos and lead paint might be present. Also, the new owner will have to be amenable to regular official visitors; it has an active navigational aid, and the government reserves an "unrestricted right" to maintain and operate it.

Perhaps those drawbacks have hurt the prospects for a deal; the lighthouse has been for sale since Sept. 26, but the GSA's online auction site, www.auctionrp.com, had registered no bidders as of yesterday.

Since 2000, the Coast Guard has been unloading its lighthouses, turning over the business of maintaining the iconic beacons to nonprofits or private citizens. The Chesapeake Bay has 30 lighthouses, about 15 of which have been transferred or sold in the past seven years.

Last year, a bidder paid $260,000 for the Baltimore Harbor Lighthouse, which sits in the Magothy River and was the last lighthouse built on the Chesapeake Bay.

A day later, the red-brick Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse outside Annapolis went for $250,000. Late last year, the GSA sold another caisson-style lighthouse, Bloody Point Bar, in an online auction that was slow at first but heated up so much that the agency extended the bidding for an extra week.

The agency has scheduled an inspection of the Point No Point Lighthouse for Tuesday. Anyone who wants to register for the tour must do so by the end of the day today at the GSA's auction page, www.auctionrp.com/auctions2.


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