PortandTerminal.com, April 10, 2020
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Modern maritime navigation technology has rendered many lighthouses obsolete. While that’s sad news for Maritimers like us who love lighthouses, it’s good news for anyone who’s interested in purchasing one, as more and more of them turn up on the market.
So kick back, hit play on the audio below and as you listen to the sound of the ocean during a rainstorm, check out a few old lighthouses that have been converted into homes. After you’ve been inspired by our examples, we’ll share some resources with you if you want to take things a step further and investigate purchasing your own lighthouse by the sea.
Lighthouse conversion #1 – $650,000
Burnham High Lighthouse is located in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England and was built in 1832. It measures 100-feet in height and has living space spread out over its 8 floors. Fun fact. When it was decommissioned and sold in 1993 it was purchased by a member of the billionaire Rothschild family.
Lighthouse conversion #2 – $622,000
The Hartland Point Lighthouse is a Grade II listed building at Hartland Point, Devon, England. Built-in 1874, the lighthouse was automated in 1984 and is a Grade 2 listed building.
A Grade 2 listed building is defined as a UK building or structure that is “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it” Buildings listed on the register are legally protected from being demolished, extended or significantly altered without special permission from the local planning authority.
The tower is 59 ft tall with the lamp being 121 ft above mean sea level. The lighthouse was built with accommodation for four keepers and their families; it was protected by a 98 ft long sea wall which was built in 1925 to prevent erosion of the rocks on which it stands.
The for about $622,000 (GBP 500,000) price, consisting of “the former lighthouse, three-bedroom living accommodation over two storeys, various stores, a helipad and access via a surfaced road that leads up the cliff to the gated entrance. The site in total amounts to about 16 acres of cliff and coastline and has the best sea views in the area.
One watch out though. It’s very difficult and dangerous to access it by road which is why the lighthouse now has its own helipad (they tore down the keepers’ homes to make room for it). On the upside – no surprise visitors.
Here are a few exterior shots. There are no decent interior photographs available. The ones we did find on an old real estate listing showed the interior to be in a “fixer-upper” state.
Lighthouse conversion #3 – No price available
Orient Point Lighthouse, aka The Coffee Pot, is located off Long Island in Plum Gut Harbor. It was built-in 1899 and stands 64-feet tall. For those who know their lighthouses, it is a “Spark Plug” lighthouse, a type of lighthouse whose superstructure rests on a concrete or metal caisson. The living quarters in them are usually made of iron.
The lighthouse is about 5 degrees out of plumb as you can see in the photo below.
Orient Point Lighthouse is now owned by a sculpture named Randy Polumbo who purchased it from a government website and spent 5 years converting into an artist’s residency.
Inspired to find out more about purchasing your own lighthouse by the sea?
In 2000, The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act was passed, allowing people to essentially acquire lighthouses listed on the National Register of Historic Places for next to nothing if the lighthouse in question was restored and opened to the public.
The New York Times ran a great article back in 2017 about the cost of purchasing and renovating a lighthouse in the United States. You can access that article by clicking here (paywall).
In the United States check out www.realestatesales.gov where they sometimes come up for auction. We found one up for auction in Florida when we prepared this article. Bidding was at $26,000 when we checked it out. It’s the one in the photo above – perfect for rising sea levels!
We also found a website when we prepared this article of a real estate agency in the UK that specializes in selling lighthouses. It’s worth a look for inspiration if for no other reason: Lighthouses For Sale Or Rent
In Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is selling off the coastal lighthouses as they are no longer needed. These ones will be replaced with a much simpler structure. Some of the lighthouses are no longer used as navigational aids so they have been labelled surplus.
The sale involves nearly 1,000 lighthouses including some famous ones at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia and CapeSpear near St. John’s Newfoundland. Nearly 1,000 lighthouses, including iconic ones at Peggy’s Cove, N.S., and Cape Spear near St. John’s, N.L., have been declared surplus property by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The DFO in Canada published a white paper titled “Alternate Use Study Surplus Lighthouses, Canada” back in 2011 that has some good information and tips. You can find it by clicking here.
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