Woman buys an abandoned lighthouse for $71K, transforms it into a lovely summer retreat

Can you picture living in a deserted lighthouse? It may appear to be a great notion, with images of tranquility, ocean mist, and expansive views. Even though it appears to be a terribly lonely life, there is something fascinating about living in these tall, historic buildings by the sea that is more than just being alone. Sheila Consaul embarked on an unexpected adventure in quest of a second home in 2009.

At the age of 65, this communications specialist became aware of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the United States government was auctioning off lighthouses, which aroused her interest. According to CNBC Make It, Congress enacted the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000. This act gave the government the authority to auction or give away “federally-owned historic light stations that have been declared excess to the needs of the responsible agency.

Shiela Consaul, talking about how she renovated the abandoned lighthouse and turned it into a summer reatreat.

“Sheila viewed this as an opportunity to combine her passion for historic preservation with her goal of establishing a summer resort. Sheila had experience repairing old homes, so taking on an abandoned lighthouse piqued her interest. Her heart was stolen by the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse in Ohio, which was up for auction. She began bidding in 2009, and in 2011, she won with a winning bid of $71,010.

Sheila was the first person to live in an abandoned lighthouse in over seven decades, having lived there since the late 1940s. This lighthouse, built in 1925, has three bedrooms, three baths, three floors, and approximately 3,000 square feet of history. From May through October, Sheila spends her summers at the lighthouse, although her primary residence is just outside of Washington, D.C. The lighthouse needed a lot of TLC when she originally bought it.

One of the lighthouse's bedroom.

Among the difficulties she faced were broken windows, crumbling plaster, and a severe need for a fresh coat of paint. Sheila took a $200,000 home equity loan to acquire the lighthouse and fund the initial renovations. She began remodeling in the summer of 2012, and the project is virtually finished after more than a decade of hard effort. She characterizes her path as “long and challenging.”

The lighthouse’s distant position, nearly half a mile from the nearest parking lot in Headlands Beach State Park, was one of the unusual obstacles Sheila faced. Large appliances, such as the stove and refrigerator, had to be hauled by boat and crane to the lighthouse platform. Sheila believes that she has spent over $300,000 on upgrades since purchasing the lighthouse.

Aerial shot of the abandoned lighthouse.

The majority of this money was spent on completely modernizing the abandoned lighthouse, including a dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with granite countertops, modern appliances, and new cupboards. It also features a comfortable living room and a convenient utilities laundry room adjacent.The cast-iron stairway rising to the second level and the stunning stained glass windows are two of the lighthouse’s attractions.

Lighthouse's furnished kitchen with dining table and chairs.

Shiela stated she has a wall devoted to the volunteers who helped with painting, cleaning, refurbishing, and restoring the lighthouse throughout the reconstruction process. A cistern, a wine cellar, a sleeping chamber, and a fully renovated bathroom can be found down the abandoned lighthouse, which originally served as a mechanical level for the lighthouse keepers.

Portrait photo of the abandoned lighhouse, taken during a storm.

Due of the lack of access to water and sewer infrastructure, Shiela chose composting toilets and rainwater gathering.See how Shiela converted an ancient, abandoned lighthouse into a lovely home in the video below:

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