Free to a responsible owner: Lake Superior lighthouse. Sits at the end of the south breakwater adjacent to the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Contact the federal government.
The U.S. General Services Administration has put the red-roofed lighthouse on the market as an available property, and is willing to transfer it at no cost to a public body or nonprofit for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation.
The lighthouse became expendable when the U.S. Coast Guard deemed the structure, which is approximately the size of a small house, as an “excess” to their needs, said Doug Sharp, marine information specialist with the 9th Coast Guard District’s Office of Aids to Navigation. The lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Under any deal, however, the federal government will keep an easement so it can maintain the beacon and fog horn, according to a notice attached to the listing.
“We don’t need the whole piece of property,” Sharp said. “We just need it to support our light.”
Many lighthouses once had someone living in them or nearby who was dedicated to keeping them in good shape, Sharp said. But it has become an expensive proposition to maintain them in modern times.
“We do as much as we can, which isn’t much under the current climate,” Sharp said.
“We just don’t have the people.”
Probably hundreds of Great Lakes lighthouses have been divested or sold, Sharp said, including one right next to the Aerial Lift Bridge a few years ago.
In many cases, he said, historical organizations take ownership of the lighthouses and restore them to their original condition.
“These private entities take these things over and they make them golden,” Sharp said. “They’re beautiful, actually.”
Interested parties must submit a letter by Aug. 10 to both the federal General Services Administration and the state historic preservation office.
The application process is competitive and based on factors including financial viability and ability to handle maintenance and historic preservation requirements.
If there are no qualified takers for the lighthouse, it could be put up for public auction in about a year.
Asked if it is livable, Sharp said: “Sure. If you want to listen to the fog signal. It’s not on all the time, but when it’s on you’ll know it.”
For details on obtaining the lighthouse, go to https://disposal.gsa.gov/LighthouseNotices