HARPSWELL

At the start of the auction, the Harpswell light station up for grabs received little attention — now the bidding has overrun several soft close dates inching the price tag up past a quarter of a million dollars.

Halfway Rock Light Station, located off the coast of Harpswell at the halfway point between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small — hence the name — was put up for auction by the General Services Administration on May 14.

The GSA manages government buildings and leases and sells commercial property, including lighthouses no longer used by the U.S. Coast Guard per the National Historic Lighthouse Act of 2000.

As of Aug. 21, there were four active bidders vying for Halfway Rock, driving the starting bid of $15,000 placed by Bidder 1 on May 29 up to $58,000. Two more bidders, who remain anonymous until the winning bidder is confirmed, joined the fray on Aug. 25, leapfrogging the price from $59,000 to $183,000 in the course of a day.

Bids have continued to come in at $1,000 increments from bidders 2 and 6 — all other bidders appear to have withdrawn — more than two weeks past the initial soft close date of Aug. 26. As of Thursday afternoon, the high bid was $267,000.

“The bidding on Halfway Rock will continue until a 24-hour period passes without new bidding activity,” said Patrick Sclafani, the GSA regional public affairs officer for New England. “The auction will automatically close at that point. I cannot predict the final outcome.”

The $267,000 bid extended the soft close date to 12:07 p.m., today.

Halfway Rock Light Station, built in 1871, has a 78- foot tall granite tower which formerly contained the keeper’s quarters, according to the GSA. The lantern room has an iron domeshaped roof. The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and will continue to serve as an active navigational aid, maintained by the Coast Guard.

Though the U.S. Coast Guard maintains navigation aids at or near many light stations, advancements in navigation technology mean the Coast Guard’s need for the light stations themselves is greatly reduced, said Sclafani.

Light stations reported by the Coast Guard as excess are made available for stewardship to federal, state and local and nonprofit organizations. If no viable offers are made, the property is then authorized for public purchase through GSA.

The purchaser of a lighthouse sold through public auction is required to adhere to historic preservation guidelines and allow the Coast Guard access to any active navigation aids, according to the NHLPA program guidelines.

Light station sales have ranged from as little as $10,000, up to $933,888 for the Graves Light in Boston Harbor, which sold last year.

More than a dozen bidders joined the auction this summer for Boon Island Light Station, located on an islet off the coast of Cape Neddick. Boon Island went to Art Girard of Portland, with a winning bid of $78,000 in mid-August.

To see a listing of available lighthouses and government properties, visit www.realestatesales.gov.

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