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Cove Point Lighthouse opens its doors for overnight guests

Saturday - 7/21/2012, 8:04am  ET

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The Cove Point Lighthouse in Calvert County is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. It was built in 1828. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If area residents are looking for a unique vacation destination close to home, there's one place that will always leave the light on.

The Cove Point Lighthouse sits on a beautiful spit of land in Lusby, Md.

"It's the longest continuously operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay since 1828," says Vanessa Gill, development director at the Calvert Marine Museum, which operates the site.

Right next to the lighthouse, the former lighthouse keeper's home has been completely renovated and will be available soon as a vacation or wedding rental.

"You can come down here in an hour and a half from D.C. or Virginia [and] be a million miles away," Gill says.

The décor is a mix of old and new. Each side of the house features a beautiful new kitchen with updated stainless steel appliances. But one kitchen has a sign on the wall called a channel marker, and a craftsman fashioned a kitchen table out of lumber saved from another nearby lighthouse that had been dismantled.

Gill, who's been working for 14 years to turn the keeper's house into a rental home, says the grounds have a magical quality at night.

"It's like nothing else, because we're on 4 acres of isolated property," she says. "It's just quiet and this one light [is] speaking to you."

The six-bedroom home is a duplex that used to serve as the living quarters for the lighthouse keeper and the assistant keeper. Visitors will be able to rent one side of the home or both for three, four or seven days at a time.

The Calvert Marine Museum will begin taking reservations soon for stays in September.

High season rates range from $800 for a three-day stay on one side of the home to $3,500 to rent out the entire home for a week.

Gill says it's an especially good choice for a wedding, because the charge includes the use of the grounds and access to the beach.

About $600,000 in federal, state, county and private funds were spent on the project, according to Gill and Doug Alves, the museum's director.

They estimate another $100,000 worth of materials and services were given to them for free.

Alves says there are only about two dozen lighthouses in the United States where guests can spend the night, and the Cove Point Lighthouse is the only one that is still operating as a navigation tool.

For more information, visit the Calvert Marine Museum's website.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)