June 19, 2018
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Washington County lighthouse near Jonesport up for auction

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

JONESPORT, Maine — Know someone of means looking for a unique seaside Down East summer home?

How about the Moose Peak Lighthouse, just off the coast of the Washington County seaside community of Jonesport?

Built in 1851 and now automated with a solar-powered light and a deafening fog horn, the lighthouse and the four acres that surround it on Mistake Island southeast of Jonesport are now on the auction block.

The federal General Services Administration is taking bids on the working lighthouse, which in its many forms has been serving as a navigational aid for seafarers since 1827. The existing 57-foot brick tower was built in 1851.

A local nonprofit group called Keepers of Moose Peak Light tried unsuccessfully to acquire the property after it was put on the “surplus list by the U.S. Coast Guard. The group learned in January that its application to have the lighthouse deeded to the nonprofit had been denied by the National Park Service.

The group’s application was denied because it didn’t have a nest egg of restoration funding already in hand. Larry Finnegan of Jonesport, the group’s chairman, said a restoration estimate solicited by the group showed repairing cracks in the tower and cleaning and repainting both the tower’s interior and exterior facades were expected to cost $207,000.

The lighthouse is sited on a rocky point west of the narrow entrance to Mistake Harbor, a well-sheltered and seasonally popular overnight anchorage for sailboats cruising the Down East coastline. The island is accessible only by sea or by helicopter.

The 23 acres that surround the lighthouse’s four-acre footprint are leased from the U.S. Coast Guard by The Nature Conservancy, which maintains it as a board-walked nature preserve that in summer is thick with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

Finnegan said the federal government tried to sell the lighthouse to a private interest in the 1990s, but that deal fell through when it was determined that Mistake Island’s granite ledge would not accommodate a septic system.

More information about the process of bidding on the structure and the rules and regulations of the sale are available at lighthouse auction website.

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