You can be the first to bid on a 120-year-old Chesapeake Bay lighthouse that the federal government is auctioning off online.
The Hooper Island Lighthouse is located about 4 miles offshore from Middle Hooper Island, which is part of Dorchester County, Maryland. The four-story caisson lighthouse was built in 1902, and juts more than 60 feet above the water.
Bidding starts at $15,000, but more than three weeks after the auction started Aug. 8, there are still no bidders as of Tuesday. That likely has to do with the fact there are a bunch of rules you would have to follow if you bought it.
First, it’s an active lighthouse used for navigation, so the U.S. Coast Guard needs access in order to operate and maintain its light.
Second, because the lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places, its historic features must be properly maintained and preserved under the guidance of the state of Maryland.
Third, you must sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Navy that will dictate when you can access the lighthouse.
Why is that?
“It’s in a surface warfare area where (the Navy does) a lot of training and exercises. So, just to ensure that whoever is going out to the lighthouse is safe, they just want to make sure that person is communicating with the Navy,” said Will Powell, public affairs officer for the General Services Administration’s Mid-Atlantic region.
Another important point: You’re not allowed to make the lighthouse your home.
“Twenty-four-hour occupancy is prohibited,” Powell said. “The only time that you can … overnight there is if you’re doing maintenance, you’re doing work on the lighthouse to repair it, that kind of thing.”
Last year, the GSA made its second attempt to try to find a steward to take care of the lighthouse. The thinking was that maybe a nonprofit group could step in to do the job, but there were no takers.
That’s why, Powell said, the next step was to put it up for auction. If you’re still interested in buying, you have until Sept. 21 to submit your bid.
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