U.S. Coast Guard Auctions Distinctive Florida Keys Lighthouse

Potential takers ponder preservation and bold new initiatives

Sand Key Lighthouse in 1972.
Florida Memory/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / November 24, 2019 11:43 am

Have you ever pondered what life would be like on a lighthouse? Perhaps you’ve seen a certain critically acclaimed film and thought, “That could be fun!” (This isn’t terribly likely, but even so.) If so, you’re in luck: the United States government is auctioning off a series of lighthouses in the Florida Keys. They’ve been paragons of engineering skill and design savvy for over a century, but their time has passed. And so begins the process of giving them away.

Atlas Obscura has the details. “Between 1852 and 1880, the U.S. government built six offshore reef lights. Also known as screw-pile lighthouses — because they stand on piles that are screwed into the sea bottom — these haunting towers look more like metal spiderwebs than buildings,” writes Karuna Eberl. 

Those designs are more timeless than you might think. The fact that the lighthouses have stood for over a century is also a sign of their impressive design and engineering. 

If one of the bidders Eberl spoke with succeeds in their plan, there may be a fascinating new destination for travelers to the Florida Keys in the future. Eberl talked with the president of the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation, named Martin. 

“Martin’s dream is to stabilize the structures, then make them into museums, with authentic guest rooms to rent,” Eberl writes. Whether spending the night there or just taking it in during the day, that would make for a fascinating experience — and something travelers would be unlikely to forget.

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