Lighthouse auction could make Great Lakes your backyard

Good news for those pining for a backyard pool: With four offshore Michigan lighthouses on the auction block, you can purchase a piece of Great Lakes history and surround yourself with freshwater on all sides.

Past owners of lighthouses have turned them into maritime museums, learning institutions or classrooms, residences, and bed and breakfasts, U.S. General Service Administration spokesperson Cat Langel said in an email.

The lighthouses for sale include: the Detroit River Lighthouse, Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse, Lansing Shoal Lighthouse, and Poe Reef Lighthouse.

►More: Snag that Up North cottage you always wanted in Michigan auction

The agency began auctioning the lighthouses online on Tuesday as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, according to an agency news release.

Once the auction closes on, full ownership of the deed is transferred from federal government to the new owner, Langel said in an email. But even after the deed transfer, the U.S. Coast Guard still maintains access to the property as needed to maintain the "aid to navigation" to guide ships, Langel said.

The structures occupy the Great Lakes Public Trust bottomlands, which is owned by Michigan, and the state will require purchasers to enter into a Private Use Agreement for the lease of bottomlands prior to any use or occupancy of the lighthouse, according to the news release.

The auction close is determined by bidders’ activity in accordance with a "soft close" process, Langel said in an email

"Essentially, a bid must survive 24 hours unchallenged during that process," Langel said.

Since 2000, 133 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership, with 78 transferred at no cost to preservationists, and 55 sold by auction to the public, according to the General Service Administration release.

Here are some details on the lighthouses from the General Services Administration:

Detroit River Lighthouse

City: Monroe

Current Bid: $10,000

Year: 1885

Height: 55 feet

Description: Around since the late 19th century, this offshore lighthouse is located approximately two miles offshore in Lake Erie and marks the entrance to the Detroit River. The light's crib is shaped like the front of a boat to break ice that travels from the river.

Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse

City: Cheboygan

Current Bid: $15,000

Year: 1929

Height: 36 feet

Description: Named for the shallow 14-foot-deep water that exists where it is built, this lighthouse is located at the northern end of Lake Huron and marks a narrow and shallow passage that ships must navigate to Lake Michigan.

Lansing Shoal Lighthouse

City: Naubinway

Current Bid: $15,000

Year: 1928

Height: 69 feet

Description: Located 11 miles north of Beaver Island, this lighthouse was one of the last to be built offshore on the Great Lakes, and aids ships navigating the Straits of Mackinac. The 2,000 square-feet structure contains four floors and basement. The first floor is damaged and unsafe for walking, and lead paint and asbestos is present in the structure, according to the General Services Administration auction site.

Poe Reef Lighthouse

City: Cheboygan

Current Bid: $10,000

Year: 1929

Height: 71 feet

Description: Located between Bois Blanc Island and mainland Michigan, this lighthouse marks a shallow reef for ships heading west to Lake Michigan and works with Fourteen Foot Shoal Light to guide ships safely through the hazardous channel in Lake Huron.

Contact Hasan Dudar at hdudar@freepress.com.

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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