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Seeking Lighthouse Stewards in Michigan, Wisconsin

Real property disposal program saves taxpayer money, preserves the past

Medium shot of Keweenaw Waterway lighthouse and people walking on the pierCHICAGO – The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is looking for stewards of seven historic lighthouses in Michigan and Wisconsin 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 five historic lighthouses in Michigan and two in Wisconsin, at no cost to eligible state or local governments, non-profit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations.

Close-up shot of Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse"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. “Historic lighthouses are unique in that they have sentimental and tangible value as historic landmarks in local communities. Through the preservation program, GSA helps find new stewards for lighthouses that are no longer considered mission critical to the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The following Michigan lighthouses are available for transfer to an approved steward:

  • Gravelly Shoal Light, constructed in 1939, is on the western side of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. This 65-foot reinforced concrete and steel tower with white markings is situated on a crib foundation five miles offshore from Aux Gres, Mich., on the western side of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.
  • Spectacle Reef Light, constructed in 1874, is located in Lake Huron about 11 miles east of the Straits of Mackinac. The light consists of a 95-foot conical limestone tower atop a concrete crib with 20-foot thick walls that protect the structure from the elements. A small white building is attached to the base of the tower.
  • Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light (top photo*) was completed around 1920, and is located near the entry from Keweenaw Bay into the Portage River and Keweenaw Waterway, near the twin cities of Hancock-Houghton, Mich. The light is an octagonal tower of structural steel, about 14 feet in diameter and 30 feet high, surmounting a reinforced concrete building 28 feet square and 16 feet high, which forms the first story. It is located at the end of a U.S. Corps of Engineers breakwater pier.
  • White Shoal Light (bottom photo*), constructed in 1912, is located offshore in the western straits of Mackinac. The masonry lighthouse sits on a square concrete base and is supported by a stone filled timber crib.
  • Lansing Shoal Light, constructed in 1928, is located offshore in the western straits of Mackinac. The square masonry lighthouse sits on a square concrete basement supported by a stone filled timber crib. The external lantern room is fabricated of cast iron.

The following Wisconsin lighthouses are available for transfer to an approved steward:

  • Algoma Pierhead Light, built in 1932, marks the entrance to the Ahnapee River in Algoma, Wisc. The light consists of a 48-foot red steel plate cylindrical tower situated on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breakwater. Access to the light is by way of an iron catwalk.
  • Milwaukee Pierhead Light (middle photo*), built in 1872, is located on Lake Michigan near the entrance to the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic Rivers. The 41-foot tall light is a red steel plate conical tower situated on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breakwater.

Long-shot of White Shoal LighthouseIn partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service, GSA administers the federal program that conveys historic lighthouses to stewards through NHLPA. Since 2000 GSA has administered the NHLPA with its partners, the National Park Service and the United States Coast Guard. To date, 30 lighthouses in Michigan have been transferred under NHLPA. Across the country more than 100 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership, with 68 transferred at no cost to preservationists and 36 sold by auction to the public.

Organizations interested in acquiring one of the lighthouses will have 60 days to submit a letter expressing interest in the property and complete a rigorous application process. All lighthouses are offered “as-is” and “where-is,” without representation, warranty, or guarantee as to quality, quantity, title, character, condition, size, or kind. If no suitable steward is identified, the lighthouses are then auctioned to the general public. Proceeds from the public sales go back into the Coast Guard’s lighthouse fund to continue preservation and maintenance of lights that are still in federal ownership.

Visit the National Park Service historic lighthouse site to find out more information on these properties and how to submit a letter of interest.

Visit GSA’s Real Property Utilization and Disposal site for additional information.

*Photos provided courtesy of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

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