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Stewards Needed for Four Historic Great Lakes Lighthouses

May 26, 2015

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News Release
U.S. General Services Administration

For Immediate Release – May 21, 2015 Contact: Cat Langel, 312.353.5663,

Real property disposal program saves taxpayer money, preserves the past

Water-level long shot of Minneapolis Shoal Light courtesy of the U.S. Lighthouse SocietyCHICAGO – The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced it is looking for stewards for historic lighthouses in an effort to save tax dollars while preserving the past. As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) program, the agency is offering four historic lighthouses in Michigan and Wisconsin at no cost to eligible state or local governments, nonprofit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations.

"GSA has a responsibility to dispose of excess government real estate assets, including historic lighthouses,” said GSA’s Great Lakes Regional Administrator Ann P. Kalayil. “These historic lighthouses have sentimental and tangible value as historic landmarks in local communities. Through the preservation program, GSA hopes to find new stewards for lighthouses that are no longer considered mission critical to the United States Coast Guard.”

In Michigan, the following lighthouses are available for transfer to an approved steward:

  • Detroit River Light – Standing since 1885, this lighthouse is located near the end of Bar Shoal in Lake Erie, just south of the entrance to the Detroit River. The 49-foot-high cast iron plate tower is 22 feet in diameter at its white base and 18 feet in diameter at its black top. To some, the light looks like a vessel, with the pointed end directed toward the mouth of the river to break ice flows coming down river.
  • Minneapolis Shoal Light – Marking the entrance to Little Bay De Noc in Delta County, this 82-foot-high octagonal lighthouse sits on a square metal structure, which formerly housed the living quarters for the keeper. The light was constructed in 1934 and was the last manned lighthouse to mark an isolated reef (pictured at right, photo courtesy of the U.S. Lighthouse Society).
  • North Manitou Shoal Light – Constructed in 1935, this lighthouse is located southeast of North Manitou Island in Leland Township. The light includes a two-story steel building, which housed former living quarters, and a 63-foot-tall steel tower constructed on top for the automated light.

Water-level long shot of the Port Washington Breakwater LightWisconsin's Port Washington Breakwater Light (pictured at left) is also available for transfer. The light was constructed in 1935 and consists of a metal-plated art deco tower situated on a 990-foot-long breakwater. Located at the entrance to Port Washington Harbor in Ozaukee County, the light is raised above the breakwater by large cement arches so it does not obstruct the view of the harbor.

Organizations interested in acquiring one of the lighthouses will have 60 days to submit a letter expressing interest in the property and complete an application. All lighthouses are offered “as-is” and “where-is,” without representation, warranty, or guarantee as to quality, quantity, title, character, condition, size, or kind.

These lighthouses occupy Great Lakes Public Trust bottomlands owned by the State of Michigan. Authorization in the form of a conveyance (Private Use Agreement) is required by the State of Michigan for the occupied bottomlands. Each light will also serve as an active aid to navigation, which will remain the personal property of the United States Coast Guard.

Since 2000, GSA has administered the NHLPA with its partners the National Park Service and the United States Coast Guard. To date, 25 lighthouses in Michigan have been transferred under NHLPA or sold to new owners. Across the country, 114 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership, with 73 transferred at no cost to preservationists and 41 sold by auction to the public.

To find out more information on these properties and how to submit a letter of interest, visit


Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13