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Looking for a Beacon of a Historic Stewardship Opportunity? Check Out a New Jersey Lighthouse

July 18, 2011

Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse (image courtesy of lighthousefriends.com)

Three historic Delaware Bay lighthouses are looking for new caregivers, and for now, there’s an attractive price tag of $0 attached. In accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of

Miah Maull Light (image courtesy of lighthousefriends.com)

2000 (NHLPA), the federal government can transfer historic light stations at no cost to federal agencies, state and/or local government entities, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies or community development organizations for various uses, including historic preservation. But you’ll want to act quickly: under the NHLPA, these light stations are only available at no cost for 60 days, after which point they will be offered for sale.

The three lights currently at offer have guided vessels through the Delaware Bay throughout the 20th century. The 1914 Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse is situated West of North Cape May, while the 1913 Miah Maull Light, named in honor of an 18th century Delaware River pilot who perished in the bay, lies west of the Egg Island State Wildlife Management Area. Further north,  the circa 1870s Ship John Shoal Lighthouse, named in honor of the passenger vessel John,  lost in the bay in 1797, is situated just west of Sea Breeze.

While the prospect of stewarding a historic lighthouse is probably not for everyone, several Garden State lights have successfully secured creative futures. Among recent successes, stewardship of the Robbins Reef Light, east of Bayonne, was officially conveyed to the nonprofit Noble Maritime Collection earlier this year. The organization has plans to establish a museum in the tower’s lower level, and create a unique bed-and-breakfast opportunity within the additional floors. Additionally, the Great Beds Lighthouse and Romer Shoal Light, both in New York Bay, were acquired by private owners earlier this year.

The NHLPA is an excellent incentive for the preservation of historic lighthouses throughout the U.S. Properties are conveyed with preservation easements requiring that the lighthouses be maintained in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, and only to qualified entities.

Ship John Shoal Lighthouse (image courtesy of lighthousefriends.com)

In many cases, the light station will continue active navigation service, so the U.S. Coast Guard will retain the accessibility rights and development restrictions necessary for the station’s continued operation.

For more information or to submit a letter of interest for one of these treasures of New Jersey’s maritime heritage, contact Meta Cushing with the General Services Administration at (617) 565-5823 or meta.cushing@gsa.gov.

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