DULUTH — The iconic Lake Superior lighthouse in Canal Park won't be the next hot vacation rental, but it might eventually be open for tours.
A St. Paul-based nonprofit was named the new owner of the Duluth Harbor North Pier Light, nearly two years after the federal General Services Administration announced a search for a new caretaker.
Rethos, which focuses on historic preservation, education and economic development, was recommended by the National Park Service to be the stewards of the 113-year-old lighthouse at the end of the north breakwater of Duluth's shipping canal. The 43-foot structure was built in 1910 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rethos plans tours involving the lighthouse, probably beginning in the summer of 2024, said its executive director, Heidi Swank.
From the lighthouse, "there is this amazing view back to Duluth where you can really see the development up the hill," she said, and learn how the city grew around its maritime origins. "There are so many great ways from that spot you can tell the story of Duluth."
Rethos, which already has ties to the Lincoln Park neighborhood through an economic development program it oversees — Minnesota Main Streets — will open an office in Duluth. Swank said tours could go inside the lighthouse, but they'd need to ensure it was safe for small groups and analyze things such as paint.
The lighthouse was listed as free to a variety of government agencies, nonprofits and community development organizations for a range of purposes from educational to preservation. It would have been sold only if there was no interest from those realms.
An architectural historian for the National Park Service said a large number of groups initially were interested. Of those, several applied. The deed will transfer to Rethos this summer.
"I applaud the commitment of Rethos to the preservation of our nation's maritime heritage in accepting stewardship of the Duluth Harbor North [Pier] Light," U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a letter to Rethos.
In 2019, Wisconsin Point's Superior Harbor Entry Light sold for $159,000 after the federal government was unsuccessful in giving it to a public entity.
The obsolete lighthouses are being relinquished under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, which seeks to find suitable stewards when the structures are no longer needed by the Coast Guard and federal agencies.