120-year-old lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay has new owner

The Hooper Island Lighthouse, which has just sold for $192,000, will remain a working lighthouse. And because it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, any repair or construction work must be pre-approved by Dorchester County, Maryland. (Courtesy GSA)

A lonely lighthouse built in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in 1902 has a new owner whose identity has not been revealed.

The federal government started an online auction of the Hooper Island Lighthouse on Aug. 8. It was initially supposed to end by Sept. 21, but was extended an extra two days.

Most — and perhaps all — of August went by without a single bid. But eventually, five bidders made offers.

“The Hooper Island Lighthouse actually sold for $192,000,” said Will Powell, public affairs officer for the General Services Administration’s Mid-Atlantic region.

“We can’t disclose the identity of the bidder. It is an individual,” he added.

The buyer’s name will be revealed when the sale closes, which is required to happen within 45 days.

“We’re just glad that it’s got a home, that someone is interested in taking care of it,” Powell said.

The Hooper Island Lighthouse is a working lighthouse, and it will stay that way, with the Coast Guard in charge of maintaining the light.

Two other things about it that could make it challenging to own: It’s located in a U.S. Navy warfare testing area, and when testing is going on, the lighthouse is off limits for safety’s sake.

Also, because it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, any repair or construction work must be pre-approved by Dorchester County, Maryland, which the lighthouse is considered part of.

It’s not known what the lighthouse’s new owner plans to do with it, but what they won’t be able to do: call the structure home. The structure will not become a primary home or a place you’ll be able to rent for an overnight stay — the agreement the new owner must sign prevents the lighthouse from being used in either way.

If you missed out on bidding for the lighthouse and are looking at buying something out of the ordinary, Powell said there will be other opportunities.

“If anyone has any interest in other properties, GSA offers them on realestatesales.gov,” he said. “Feel free to check it out. We have auctions coming up all the time.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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