Lake Superior lighthouse back on the market after deal falls through

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SUPERIOR, Wis. — A historic landmark on Wisconsin Point is once again seeking a caretaker. The Superior Entry Lighthouse, built in 1913, is being offered at no cost to government agencies, nonprofits or educational groups.

The city of Superior won’t be in the running.

“I don’t know a lot about the interior of the lighthouse or any terms of its sale, but I don’t think the city is currently interested in operating it,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine. “While I want to see it preserved, and it would be fun to create some public access, it looks like a fairly substantial project and we’d have a tough time managing it right now. If the state or federal government provided some assistance to repair and operate the lighthouse, we would certainly consider it. For now, however, I think we’ll just wait and see what happens.”

The building has been on and off the market for more than a decade. The search for a caretaker began in 2013, when the lighthouse was offered for free to government agencies and nonprofits. There were no takers for the 100-year-old building. The property went up for public auction in 2019. It was purchased by tech executive Steven Broudy of San Francisco with a high bid of $159,000.

The U.S. General Services Administration reissued its call for a nonprofit or government agency to take over the lighthouse on June 3. According to Minnesota Public Radio News, the limitations on what could be done with the property played a role in Broudy’s decision to return the lighthouse to the government.

The 56-foot-tall lighthouse encompasses five stories — a basement, a two-story main area with living quarters and a light tower surmounted by a lantern. The light would continue to serve as an active navigation aid and remain the property of the U.S. Coast Guard, which will maintain an easement to service it.

Because the lighthouse sits at the end of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breakwater, a lease from the corps would be required to determine what can and can’t be transported to the structure, as well.

Eligible entities have until Aug. 5 to submit a letter of intent for the lighthouse.

Offering the Wisconsin Point icon to nonprofits is the first step in the process of disposing of a lighthouse under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. If no eligible entity comes forward, the property will be put up for sale to the general public.

Rethos, a St. Paul-based historic preservation nonprofit, was awarded the Duluth Harbor North Pier Light by the National Park Service in 2023 . The group planned to install interpretive signs and open the 43-foot-tall structure for tours.

Visit the GSA property disposition site or the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act page of the National Park Service for more information.

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