Buyers beware: Historic lighthouses come with costs


PORT AUSTIN REEF LIGHT, Mich. (AP) — When Lou Schillinger and his volunteer cadre began restoring an 1890s lighthouse more than two miles off the Michigan shore in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, they first needed to remove 30 years’ accumulation of gull and pigeon feces whose depth measured in feet rather than inches.

That was in the mid-1980s when he reached an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to prevent the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse — his “Castle in the Lake” — from being dismantled and lost forever.

“That first summer my dad and I ran out there with a 14-foot rowboat and a 20-foot ladder because there was no access ladder and we just began shoveling manure,” said Schillinger, 66, president of the Port Austin Reef Light Association, a nonprofit group that in 2013 took title of the property from the federal government. No keeper had lived in the brick…



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