- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2006

The historic Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay has been sold.

After an extended auction, Michael Gabriel, a lawyer from Nevada, is the proud owner of the 124-year-old lighthouse, for which he bid $100,000. The lighthouse is off the southern shore of Kent Island, Md.

Mr. Gabriel, in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Times, likened his reason for purchasing the lighthouse to the reason why people climb Mount Everest.

“Because it’s there,” Mr. Gabriel, 53, said from his home in Carson City, Nev.

He also said he wanted to ensure that the lighthouse, which has a burnt-red cast-iron shell and is slightly tilted, is properly restored. “It didn’t look like it was going to be bought by anyone who was going to restore it,” he said.

The auction, run online by the U.S. General Services Administration, opened Aug. 22, and the first bid was placed almost a month later at $5,000.

As the auction approached its Nov. 29 deadline, bidding substantially increased and had reached $50,000 by the end of the day, with more bids coming in.

The GSA decided to extend the auction until no more bids were received.

The last day of the auction was Dec. 7.

Gary Mote, a public-affairs officer for GSA, said the lighthouse went for a relatively cheap price. Old lighthouses often are sold and restored to replicate living quarters for operators.

The minimum $5,000 bidding increments for the Bloody Point lighthouse were set low because the structure was gutted in 1960 after an electrical fire.

Mr. Gabriel said he saw that as a plus, reasoning that before restoration began it would have to be gutted anyway.

“This way, it’s all ready to go,” he said.

Mr. Gabriel said he came across the Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse after bidding unsuccessfully on another lighthouse in Rhode Island.

He said that his purchase might be “a quirky little thing,” and that his friends don’t believe him when he tells them about it.

“I have a bit of an eccentric bent,” he said.

Mr. Gabriel has yet to see the lighthouse, but he plans to start the restoration process at the end of next year.

Restoration could cost as much as $200,000, he said.

One of his first tasks, Mr. Gabriel said, will be the addition of a dock. After that, he said he hopes to enlist professional designers to get the lighthouse to resemble its original structure, including the small kitchen and bathroom that used to be there for its operators.

Mr. Gabriel said he must get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before beginning any construction.

He also said he doesn’t own the entire structure. The U.S. Coast Guard owns the light tower, which still aids navigation on the Bay.

The functionality of the lighthouse is Mr. Gabriel’s favorite part.

“I like the fact that the light is still there because it gives it character,” he said. “If it didn’t have a light, I’d get one.”

The lighthouse, which marks the Bloody Point Bar and the entrance to Eastern Bay, has aided maritime transportation on the Bay since its completion in 1882.

After restoration, Mr. Gabriel might donate the lighthouse to a nonprofit organization. He said a Baptist church nearby has already called him to say it is interested in having it.

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