Halfway Rock Light auction closes with highest bid ever for Maine lighthouse

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HARPSWELL — The auction of Halfway Rock Light has closed with a high bid of $283,000.

If accepted by the federal government, it would be the highest winning bid ever for a Maine lighthouse.

The bid trumps the previous high of $190,000 in 2010 for Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse at the mouth of Portland Harbor to Windham neurosurgeon Jeffrey Florman, according to Patrick Sclafani, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees the auctions.

The Halfway Rock Light auction is the second superlative lighthouse sale in as many months, closing about a month after New England’s tallest lighthouse – the 133-foot-tall Boon Island Light off York – sold at auction for $78,000 to Portland real estate developer Art Girard.

The Halfway Rock Light auction closed on Saturday. The Boon Island Light auction closed Aug. 17.

Sclafani on Monday said the federal government will take as long as a month to decide whether to accept the winning bid.

“The government reserves the right to reject any or all bids for any reason,” he said. “We cannot release the name of the winning bidder. When the sale is officially closed, we will announce the name with his (or) her permission.”

Even if the top bid is rejected for some reason, the second highest bid of $282,000 and the third highest bid of $203,000 would keep Halfway Rock Light as the most expensive Maine lighthouse sale by the GSA.

Halfway Rock Light was built in 1871 and sits on a two-acre rock ledge off the tip of Bailey Island. It is so named because it stands halfway between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small, about 10 miles east of Portland Head Light.

The granite tower has an iron dome-shaped roof and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the identity of the winning bidder and his or her intentions for the Harpswell lighthouse remain unknown, another Mid-Coast lighthouse sold in recent years was converted to a luxury bed and breakfast.

The 1892 Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station at the mouth of Boothbay Harbor was reopened in July as The Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse by Old Orchard Beach native Dan Aube and his wife.

The U.S. Coast Guard puts about five lighthouses in New England and the Great Lakes up for auction each year, Sclafani told The York Weekly.

Excess lighthouses are offered to other government agencies, nonprofits and preservationists before being placed on the auction block.

The sales of Boon Island Light and Halfway Rock will bring the U.S. General Services Administration’s total to 38 lighthouses to be sold to private owners through auction, while another 68 have been transferred at no cost to nonprofits.

While Halfway Rock has fetched the most money ever for a Maine lighthouse, it won’t be the most expensive lighthouse sale by the GSA ever: That honor belongs to Graves Light in Boston Harbor, which sold for a high bid of nearly $934,000 last year.

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Halfway Rock Light Station, off the tip of Bailey Island in Harpswell, is being sold by the U.S. General Services Administration.