Federal government looking to unload Algoma lighthouse
ALGOMA - Want to own a lighthouse? The federal government is looking to get rid of a few, including one in Algoma.
The Algoma Pierhead Lighthouse is where the Ahnapee River in Kewaunee County flows into Lake Michigan.
The 1932 lighthouse is being offered as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program. The Milwaukee Pierhead Light is also available.
Jim Jorgensen of Green Bay has spent weeks tending different lighthouses in Wisconsin and Michigan.
“It's just kind of a historical, go back into time type thing,” said Jorgensen.
The lighthouses Jorgensen has tended are bigger than the one in Algoma.
“This is more of what they call a range house or something where the boats can just check it on the way into the harbor,” said Jorgensen.
The U.S. General Services Administration is looking to transfer the stewardship of the Algoma lighthouse. It will do it for free if a local government, non-profit, or historical preservation group wants it. If no one steps up, then it'll put the lighthouse up for public auction.
“It's no longer needed by the Coast Guard as part of their operation so the Coast Guard has determined the light station is considered excess and we're helping them find a new owner for it,” said Cat Langel with the U.S. General Services Administration.
In the last 14 years, the federal government has transferred the ownership of more than one hundred lighthouses across the country, about a third by public auction.
“The prices when they've been sold through public auction range from $10,000 up to over $900,000,” said Langel.
Jorgensen isn't sure how much the Algoma Lighthouse might go for, although he says a group could pick it up before it reaches an auction.
“Because up and down the Great Lakes almost all of the lighthouses now have been taken over by some type of a private or semi-private organization to keep them going,” said Jorgensen. “They're part of our history. They've been here forever.”
In all, you can find 30 lighthouses in northeast Wisconsin: along the lake, Green Bay and Lake Winnebago.
In 2010, 40 miles south of Algoma, a Manitowoc lighthouse made it to public auction. A New York man bought it for $30,000.
Organizations interested in acquiring the Algoma lighthouse have 60 days to submit an application.