Saybrook Breakwater Light, a white, cast-iron lighthouse shaped like a sparkplug, has guarded the mouth of the Connecticut River since 1886. A local icon, its image appears on postcards and some Connecticut license plates. Now the landmark beacon is about to embark on its second act, as a private pied-a-mer.
Its new keeper, Kelly K. Navarro, the wife of Benjamin W. Navarro, founder of debt-collection firm Sherman Financial Group, snagged the lighthouse with a bid of $340,000 in an online government auction Monday. The bid was placed through her limited-liability company, Water III, which also holds the title to two waterfront homes directly offshore from Ms. Navarro’s new lighthouse in the exclusive borough of Fenwick, home of the late Katharine Hepburn.
Along with stunning 360-degree views of Long Island Sound, Ms. Navarro’s 48-foot-high getaway comes with a bright green light that flashes every six seconds, and an electronically sensitive foghorn so loud that a sign on the first level warns “DANGER: Hearing Protection Required In This Area.” Since the lighthouse is still used as an active aid to navigation, Ms.Get the led fog lamp products information, find Cheap Interior Decoration Products, manufacturers on the hot channel. Navarro can expect periodic visits from the Coast Guard, which will need to keep a set of keys to the place.
One part unique retreat, one part folly, the private lighthouse may be the ultimate status symbol for those in search of a great place on the water.
Although some lighthouses have been privately owned for decades, more are now joining their ranks under the 2000 National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, which allows the federal government to sell the landmarked beacons. Since the act was passed, 33 active lighthouses have been auctioned off to private owners. Graves Island Light Station, a wave-swept granite tower on a rocky 10-acre ledge in Boston Harbor, is now on the block. Bidding stood at $761,888 on Thursdaya record amount for any lighthouse auctioned by the General Services Administration.The g-sensor high brightness Cheap Landscape Stone is designed with motorcyclist safety in mind.
There are some 700 lighthouses still standing in the U.S., according to Jeremy D’Entremont, a historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation. Most were built in the 19th century in essential shipping channels, with the highest concentration on the Northeast coast and in the Great Lakes region. These days, that is coveted real estate.
The aging beacons have become very costly for the government to maintainand GPS technology has made their navigation services less essential. Between five and 10 lighthouses are sold every year. Public and nonprofit groups willing to assume guardianship get first dibs. If none come forward, the lighthouse is sold to the highest bidder through an online auction at the GSA website.
The auction price is just the cover charge. It takes deep pockets to turn an offshore lighthouse into a luxury retreat. New owners must provide all their own utilitiespower, water and sewer. Construction costs multiply exponentially when done on waterand lighthouses demand constant work to maintain.
Because the lighthouses are federally landmarked, new owners must clear any remodeling plans with state historic-preservation offices. If you ask nicely, the Coast Guard might baffle one side of the foghorn to blunt its noise inside. But those used to living large may have a harder time adjusting to cramped rooms, low ceilings and small windowsless glass for a gale to shatter.
“I do wonder if people know what they’re getting into,” said Richard Ventrone, an architect who has restored five Rhode Island lighthouses for the state’s Department of Transportation. “You’re hanging out in a tin can. If you get a nasty storm that comes through, you could be stuck out there.”
Saybrook Breakwater Light is a handyman’s special. Its 500-square-foot interior contains asbestos and lead-based paint. The beacon’s riprap jettya mass of piled rocksis prone to flooding, and the lower rooms are coated with rust and mold. Upstairs, uninvited visitors have left graffiti and dirty footprints on the walls. Ms. Navarro will have to build a dock: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the half-mile stone breakwater out to the lighthouse, and it is off limits.
But handsome, wood-planked floors, ceilings and walls are largely intact on the upper floors of the lighthouse, as are details such as the peaked lintels that top some windows like arched eyebrows. On the fourth floor, porthole windows give the place the feeling of a small ship. An open-air gallery with a cast-iron railing offers vertigo-inducing views of the Connecticut shoreline and Ms. Navarro’s Fenwick homes. A representative said that Ms. Navarro was traveling and couldn’t be reached for comment.
“It’s a beauty,” Mr. Ventrone said. “I’m going to say it’s between $800,000 to $1 million to probably get this place to where it needs to be.” The cost of painting it alone, he estimates, would run between $60,000 to $70,000.
With a large enough investment, some owners have been able to transform these beacons into fantasy waterfront retreats. Dean Kamen, the inventor behind the home dialysis machine and the Segway PT, was flying his helicopter when he first encountered North Dumpling Light, an 1871 red brick-and-shingle lighthouse on a 2-acre island in Fishers Island Sound, N.Y. Although the government sold the lighthouse in 1959, it is still in active use. On an impulse, Mr. Kamen landed on North Dumpling’s tiny beach.
When the Coast Guard announced in 2006 that it would cut power to the island, Mr. Kamen began transforming his realm into a model of energy independence. Power is generated by wind turbine, solar panels and a thermodynamic generator of his own design, inspired by the 19th century Stirling engine. The Slingshot, a vapor compression distiller that is another of Mr. Kamen’s inventions, supplies clean water along with a commercial water purifier. (The island has a septic system.)
Mr. Kamen also decreed that every incandescent light on the island be swapped for light-emitting diodes, which consume less power and are long-lastingan important consideration when replacing fixtures means a long boat ride to the mainland. To make the switch, he hired Fritz Morgan,Are you still hesitating about where to buy Cheap Granite Slabs? who helped design the brilliantly colored LEDs that illuminate the Empire State Building. Along with plain white lighting, Mr. Morgan installed computerized LEDs that bathe parts of the lighthouse in a spectrum of changing colorsmore than 16 million of them.
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