Digest>Archives> September 2010

Ohio Light Up for Auction – Again

Wickie’s Wisdom

By Timothy Harrison


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Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse. ...
Photo by: Marilyn Crook

As part of the federal government’s program to rid itself of historic lighthouses, Ohio’s Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse is up for auction . . . again.

The lighthouse had previously been offered for free to any other government agency or legitimate non-profit under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. Sadly, and surprisingly to most, no group or entity stepped forward to obtain this beautiful lighthouse for free.

Although the structure is basically sound, most were afraid of what the cost might be to restore and maintain the lighthouse. Sadly, this is the mind-set of many in today’s economy. Instead of taking the chance, while getting the lighthouse for free, and worrying about raising the money later, they get scared and do absolutely nothing.

It seems that many people believe, especially in our instant gratification society, that if you can’t raise the money at once, it’s not worth it. The truth is, lighthouse restoration, or any type of historic preservation project, is a lengthy process that may take years to complete and requires a lot of tenacity and long term dedication, something that scares many people or groups in this day and age. Fortunately, there are still a few groups around that are not afraid and have taken the initiative to make the long term commitment to save a lighthouse, but more often than not, this is no longer the norm.

When no one stepped forward to take free ownership of the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse, as has been the case with many other historic lighthouses, the structure was put up for auction to the highest bidder.

The high bid, at $77,000, for the Fairport beacon was submitted by Jerome Osborne. However, Osborne backed out of the deal when a dispute arose over access to the lighthouse over the breakwater, which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Now the lighthouse has again been put up for auction to the highest bidder. We’ll bet that whoever buys the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse will have a plan for it and put the lighthouse to good use, something that the non-profit community or local community could have also done but for a lot less money. It just would have taken them longer. In the meantime another historic American lighthouse will fall into private ownership.

Timothy Harrison

Editor & Publisher

This story appeared in the September 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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