Feds plan to dispose of Edgartown’s landmark lighthouse

SONY DSC — Tim Johnson

Some prime property with incredible water views is about to change hands in Edgartown. It is not, however, for sale. It will be given away.

The federal government plans to dispose of the Edgartown Lighthouse, along with 11 other beacons along the East Coast and in the Great Lakes. The General Services Administration (GSA) is managing the disposition.

“As part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program, the agency is offering 12 historic lighthouses along the Atlantic Seaboard and Great Lakes, at no cost, to eligible state or local governments, nonprofit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations,” a GSA spokesman wrote in a news release.

Edgartown Lighthouse, along with East Chop Lighthouse and Gay Head Lighthouse, is currently under the stewardship of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The museum has a lease to maintain the historic structures that expires in 2023.

Executive Director David Nathans said the museum expects to be involved in the disposition, and expects little to change about the way the lighthouses are managed.

“What it means is we will need to move through a process to take more permanent possession,” Mr. Nathans said. “We intend to move ahead in that process. In essence, we would maintain the same level of responsibility.”

Mr. Nathans said the Edgartown Light is popular with visitors and for group events, and it yields an income stream to offset the costs of management. Other costs are covered by Community Preservation Act funds, and private donations raised by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

“It’s now open seven days a week during the season,” Mr. Nathans said. “This year we were able to get a sponsored evening program. It’s becoming more and more a part of our operation. To have ownership makes perfect sense.”