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Boston Harbor's historic lighthouse sells for more than $900,000

By Daniel Lovering

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man won the right to buy a historic lighthouse on the outermost island in Boston Harbor for more than $900,000, the most ever paid for such a structure in the United States.

Dave Waller, of Malden, Massachusetts, said on Friday he and his wife planned to use the Graves Island Light Station as a vacation home after they complete a historical survey and make it habitable.

"I think we can do good things with it without spoiling it," he said.

The lighthouse, completed in 1905, is the tallest structure in Boston Harbor, at 113 feet, said Patrick Sclafani, a spokesman for the General Services Administration, the government agency handling the sale.

It stands several miles from shore on rock outcroppings known as The Graves, part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, and named after a prominent trader in colonial Massachusetts.

The sale follows a six-week online auction that ended on Saturday with Waller's winning cash bid of $933,888. The auction attracted a field of 10 bidders that narrowed to just two shortly before it closed.

The lighthouse came up for sale after the U.S. Coast Guard determined it no longer needed the cylindrical granite building, Sclafani said. But the Coast Guard will continue to maintain its light-emitting equipment and use it as a navigational aid, he said.

The property includes about 10 acres of ledge, the lighthouse, an attached dock and a small building known as the oil house, according to the GSA Auctions website. A 40-foot ladder leads to the entrance to the lighthouse, according to the National Park Service.

When completed, the transaction will set a record for the highest amount paid for a U.S. lighthouse, eclipsing a previous record of $381,000, Sclafani said.

Waller, founder of a video effects company and an antique sign collector who grew up in New England, said the lighthouse "could probably use a good scrubbing," but that its historical details would remain intact.

"It's almost like a scrapbook," he said. "It sort of belongs to everybody, in that it's a very public thing to look at, so I think it makes sense to be responsible and don't jump in too fast with it."

Waller said he was inspired to bid on the lighthouse because he thought it was "a cool, cool place" when he saw the auction listing. "It's just as simple as that."

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and James Dalgleish)

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