Illuminating Investment

If the economy is stalling your move to that cottage by the lake, try a lighthouse instead. It’s probably cheaper.

The U.S. Coast Guard periodically sells off lighthouses as part of the federal government’s Maritime Heritage Program, and two that stand in Cleveland’s harbor are among those on the list. The properties are initially offered to local nonprofit organizations for free. But if none bite, they go up for public auction online.

Gary Zaremba, president of New York City-based Artisan Restoration Group, recently bought the Cleveland East Pierhead lighthouse for a mere $10,000.

This isn’t his first, either. Zaremba’s creeping nautical empire also includes lighthouses in Maine and Conneaut, Ohio.

“I want to control the navigation of America,” he says in jest. “That’s my goal.”

Actually, Zaremba’s plan is to redevelop the properties. His Maine lighthouse will become a high-end bed and breakfast, while the one in Conneaut will be restored as part of the town’s harbor district.

As for Cleveland’s relatively tiny East Pierhead lighthouse, Zaremba plans to rent it out to boaters looking for a place to dock and enjoy the downtown skyline. “It certainly can be used by area boaters for whatever they want to do,” he says. “I mean, have a party, relax, enjoy — get off the boat.”

Almost makes you wish you’d bought it, huh? Well, the West Pierhead lighthouse is going to need a new owner, too.




67 feet

25 feet




Samuel Crozier, the lighthouse’s final live-in keeper, was rowing in the channel during a snowstorm in the 1940s when a 600-foot freighter lurched from the gloom behind him — only Crozier’s swift boatmanship spared him an icy death. A 32-foot pyramidal wooden tower was first built on this site in 1869. The pierhead on which the current structure sits was rebuilt in 1948 following a collision.
SELLING POINT The tiny shack beside the lighthouse lets you free your inner barnacle-encrusted hermit. A large platform surrounds the lighthouse — perfect for tanning, barbecues and
lawn chairs.
FUTURE The lighthouse won‘t be available for another one to three years. The Coast Guard will give it a makeover before nonprofit organizations can submit applications to take over the property. Zaremba wants to renovate the lighthouse, adding eco-friendly elements such as solar panels and a composting toilet. He hopes the lighthouse will “add luster to what’s already a pretty harbor.” He’ll also loan it to nonprofits a few times each year.
PRICE Free to qualifying nonprofit organizations;
if none are interested, it will go up for
public auction
$10,000 (sold)
Share this story: