© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The U.S. is giving away historic lighthouses, including one in CT, but there’s a catch

Old Saybrook's Lynde Point Lighthouse
Shunyu Fan / iStockphoto
Getty Images
Old Saybrook Light

Lighthouses were an important maritime navigational tool for centuries, guiding ships away from rocks, shoals, and other dangerous terrain and safely into harbor. According to the United States Lighthouse Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of lighthouses, there are close to 800 lighthouses dotting America’s shoreline.

But modern technology, like GPS, has rendered lighthouses mostly obsolete. Since the early 2000s, the federal General Services Administration (GSA) has been giving away these unique structures, most of which are over a century old.

It’s all part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, legislation aimed at preserving this important part of maritime history by transferring ownership of selected lighthouses to local or state governments or a nonprofit for free. In return, the entity that takes ownership of the lighthouse must promise to maintain and preserve it, and open it to visitors.

This summer, the GSA has listed six lighthouses to be given away for free, including Old Saybrook’s Lynde Point Lighthouse. Located at the mouth of the Connecticut River, the 65-foot octagon brownstone tower was built in 1838. The lighthouse was busy for many years, as a parade of ships traveled up the Connecticut River. The lighthouse went automated in the 1970s.

Surprisingly, Lynde Point Lighthouse is not a tourist attraction for Old Saybrook. The lighthouse, as well as the road leading to the lighthouse, are closed to the public. Right now, the best way to see it up close is by boat. That could all change if Old Saybrook is granted ownership. In an email to Connecticut Public, Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna said the town has sent an email to the GSA expressing interest in taking ownership of the lighthouse.

If a suitable owner is not found for the lighthouse, it will be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content