Two years ago, it came to MuckRock’s attention that on both of these United States coasts, beaming beacons of comfort, monuments to the call of this land’s promise, were being sold or gifted away by the U.S. Coast Guard with the help of the General Services Administration. Curious to learn more about the program for a free lighthouse (read: how do we get a free lighthouse?), we asked the GSA for their records on which ones were up for grabs.
In return, we were provided with the agency’s National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) Program Highlights Report for the year 2014, which even now seems to be the most recent version available.
The NHLPA was passed by Congress in 2000, an update to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, with the idea that if the Coast Guard or the National Park Service no longer needed a particular lighthouse, they could more easily transfer the property, via the GSA, to another local or state government agency, a non-profit, or, if there were no takers in those departments, some private individual who promises to care and maintain it responsibly.
As an aside, since we submitted this request, MuckRock has achieved non-profit status.
The program has transferred over 100 lighthouses since 2000.
The program isn’t a big driver of revenue - actual sales have only numbered just over $5.6 million - and transfers are occasionally held up by environmental and structural issues - these are, after all, excess lighthouses, in delicate habitats or conditions themselves - but the point isn’t sales or simply offloading the lighthouses. It’s more to ensure that those in Rhode Island or Michigan or Wisconsin or Massachusetts can more readily enjoy the lighthouse experience than if the government were simply holding onto old buildings in the water and shouldering their upkeep itself.
As an aside, MuckRock is a non-profit located in Massachusetts.
Besides lighthouses, the GSA handles many transfers and sales of U.S. property to the public. It’s the agency, for example, responsible for the lease that President-elect Trump holds on the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., the lease which the GSA says he will be violating just as soon as he takes office.
For more on the GSA, check out other requests to the agency or file your own today.
For more on how to donate something lighter than a lighthouse to MuckRock, read the full report embedded below, or on the request page.
Image via GoodFreePhotos