North Carolina’s Frying Pan Shoals Lighthouse, located approximately 32 miles southeast of Cape Fear, may soon be open to the public for overnight stays and corporate retreats.
Built in 1966, at a cost to the taxpayers of $2 million dollars, the lighthouse recently sold at auction to businessman Richard Neal for $85,000. The lighthouse was automated in 1979 and in the mid 1980s, the Coast Guard spent about $350,000 on maintenance to the station. In 1995 the Coast Guard again spent more money on the lighthouse when they solarized the station.
At one point, the University of North Carolina considered the station for use for its underwater research programs, but that plan never materialized, primarily because of liability concerns.
In 2002 the Coast Guard decided that the lighthouse was too expensive to maintain and they wanted to spend $1 million to dismantle the station. However, those plans also never materialized, primarily due to a lack of money. Eventually the lighthouse was declared excess property and the General Services Administration (GSA) offered the tower for sale through an auction to the highest bidder.
Government estimates to restore the tower have been reported to be nearly $1.5 million, but the new owner is confident that privately hired contractors can do the job for half that amount. Major repairs would have do be done to the helipad to make it safe again for helicopter landings, the ladder from the water going up to a lower platform will need to be replaced, and major renovations will have to be done to the rest of the station.
The station was built with approximately 5,000 square feet of living area comprised of six good sized bedrooms, a chart room (which could now also be used for a bedroom), an office and radio room, a large recreation or lounge room, storage room, medical room, galley, galley storage room, one bathroom and a number of other rooms used for various purposes.
Although an exact date when Neal would be able to start to accommodate overnight guests or corporate retreats has yet to be determined, the new owner says he will keep interested persons informed through his web site at www.fptower.com.
This story appeared in the
November 2010 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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