Digest>Archives> November 2003

Battle won for ownership of Currituck Lighthouse

However, outcome could change all future transfers


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Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
Photo by: Betty Collins

Preservationists around the country let out a sigh of relief this past October 17th when the non-profit Outer Banks Conservationist (OBC) finally won the long fought battle for the ownership of North Carolina's Currituck Lighthouse.

With the deed in his hand, John Wilson, of the Outer Banks Conservationists, called to inform us of the news. Elated with excitement, he asked us to be sure to spread a word of thanks to the many people from around the nation who had helped with letters, phone calls, and e-mails to government officials and members of Congress to help them win this battle.

Wilson and Bill Parker of the OBC's Board of Directors flew to Atlanta, Georgia the day before to get the deed and then flew back to North Carolina to have the deed filed with the county to make sure that Congressman Walter Jones did not attempt to try to stop the transfer again. Congressman Jones, over the objections of preservationists nationwide, had tried on numerous occasions to stop the transfer to OBC and stop them from obtaining their rightful ownership of the lighthouse under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The Congressman's actions put the entire process of all future lighthouses transfers in jeopardy.

However, in order to receive the title to the lighthouse, which was restored by them and awarded to them by the Department of the Interior under due process of law, the OBC was forced to place $180,000 of money earned at the lighthouse into an escrow account pending an audit that they must pay for. It seems that OBC may need to turn over to the government, because of Congressman Jones political shenanigans, all money not spent up to the time of the conveyance, an action that could affect all future transfers of lighthouses to non-profits.

Basically what this means is that any non profit applying for ownership of a lighthouse must spend all their money before the lighthouse is transferred, leaving nothing left in their bank account. They would then need to start from scratch, with no money, after the title of the lighthouse has been transferred to them.

All we can hope for now is that Congress adds some amendments to the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act to not only clarify financial conditions at the time of transfer but to strengthen that law to stop any one Congressman or one individual with political clout from attempting to circumvent an existing law.

This story appeared in the November 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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