WINDHAM – Jeff Florman, the Windham man who recently outbid all rivals to claim ownership of an historic lighthouse in Portland Harbor, wants his community to know he’s proud to have claimed the lighthouse for the pride of all Mainers.

No seeker of the limelight, Florman shrank from the public eye during the exciting online bidding process for the Ram Island Ledge Light, a process which captivated the Greater Portland area when bidding started June 30 and ramped up in early September. In fact, after reporters determined his identity, Florman changed his bid name to “MAINE” and then to “Redtide” in an effort to evade the unwanted attention.

Florman, a soft-spoken neurosurgeon at Maine Medical Center, made the winning bid of $190,000 on Sept. 14. After several requests for comment by the Lakes Region Weekly, Florman last week conveyed his renewed request for privacy as well as his pride for successfully bidding on the lighthouse built in 1905.

“We’re excited for our community,” Florman said, referring to his hometown of Windham. “I’m just a random guy who lives with his family in the woods. I’m trying to be under the radar, but it is true, I’m from Windham.”

Florman said he and his family are currently “doing our due diligence to make sure (the lighthouse) isn’t going to fall into the ocean,” and once that is done, he will fork over the $190,000 to the federal government in exchange for ownership rights to one of Maine’s 65 or so operating lighthouses.

The Ram Island Ledge Light was one of many lighthouses up for auction by the U.S. General Services Administration. The lighthouses and other public property is considered surplus and is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. A full listing of available property can be viewed at www.auctionrp.com. No other Maine lighthouses are for sale, but two just sold in New York and another is for sale in Buzzards Bay near Bourne, Mass.

Florman is not a self-described lighthouse buff, nor does he own a boat. Indeed, he’ll have to buy a boat to access his new purchase. Florman’s main reason for buying the lighthouse was historic preservation. Some of the lighthouse bidders were reportedly interested in using the lighthouse for adventure tourism, such as a bed and breakfast.

“While there were a whole lot of factors, (the purchase) was borne out of an interest in historic preservation,” said Florman “That, and I would like to see a non-commercial use of the lighthouse.”

Florman said he hasn’t yet visited the property, set on dangerous shoals about a mile off Portland Head Light, “although we have gotten as close as we can.” Sometimes the ledge surrounding the lighthouse is completely submerged, making it difficult to visit the structure, and Florman will eventually have to install a new dock to replace one that has deteriorated.

According to the U.S. General Services Administration, which conducted the sale after failing to seek interest from qualified nonprofit organizations, the lighthouse will continue to serve as a navigational aid for boaters, primarily as a light and fog horn in bad weather. The U.S. Coast Guard, which had kept up the beacons, will be granted access to the property, as part of the bid requirements.

While the government will still have access, Florman will be required for all upkeep of the structure in accordance with the National Register of Historic Places.

A Windham man recently won the bidding for the historic Ram Island Ledge Light in Portland Harbor. (Courtesy photo)


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