Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2016

Two Wisconsin Lighthouses Declared Excess Property For The Second Time

Both Lighthouses Are Offered For Free

By Timothy Harrison


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The 1907 Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse in ...
Photo by: Joanne Yohn

The Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Superior Harbor South Breakwater Lighthouse, more commonly known as the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse, in Superior, Wisconsin, have been both declared as excess property by the government for the second time.

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The 1913 Superior Harbor South Breakwater ...
Photo by: Lori Harvey

The Superior Harbor South Breakwater Lighthouse was originally offered for adoption in 2013, and the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse was originally offered up for free in 2014. Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA), both lighthouses were offered up for free adoption to any qualified nonprofit or other government agency that wanted them, but none stepped forward.

Since no one wanted to accept the lighthouses for free, the NHLPA then required that the General Services Administration put the lighthouses up for auction and sold to the highest bidder. However, there was an unforeseen glitch. Both lighthouses rest at the end of a long pier and breakwater, which are owned by the Army Corp of Engineers. Although the Army Corps of Engineers had no problem allowing a right-of-way over the pier and breakwater to other government entities or to nonprofits, they would not, for legal purposes, allow a lease of the pier or breakwater to a private individual who would own the lighthouse or lighthouses.

In the hopes that some of the nonprofits or other government entities might have had a change of heart by now, the lighthouses are again being offered to them, free of charge. All they have to do is take care of the lighthouses and make them accessible to the public for educational and enjoyment purposes.

Lighthouse Digest is amazed that neither the City of Milwaukee nor the City of Superior, or any nonprofit, did not want them in the first place. Both are historic symbols of the maritime heritage of their communities and both could be income-producing properties that would pay for themselves. Hopefully, with this second go-around, the lighthouses will soon have new owners.

Editor’s Note: For more information contact Mr. Kristopher Mendez, U.S. General Services Administration, Real Property Utilization & Disposal Div., Chicago Operations Branch, 230 South Dearborn St., Room 3774, Chicago, Il 60604 – Phone No. 312-353-6039.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2016 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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