Photo via Wikimedia Commons
One New York City lighthouse we didn’t include in our Foursquare List on the Lighthouses of NYC is the West Bank Lighthouse, near Staten Island. That’s because it’s been privately owned since 2010 by a man named Sheridan Reilly.
West Bank Light was built in 1901 and stood watch over the Ambrose Channel. It has seen its fair share of strange maritime events. On two separate occasions–once in 1904 and another time in 1915–boats being pulled by tugs crashed into the lighthouse, taking chunks of the structure with them. Decades later, after Robert Lyons took over as lighthouse keeper in 1973, another vessel ran into the riprap around West Bank Light. Lyons slept for the remainder of his days with a life jacket nearby.
When the lighthouse was designated by the United States Department of the Interior as surplus in 2007, no parties were willing and able to take charge of maintaining and preserving West Bank. It was put up for auction in 2008, ending August 27 when an anonymous bidder offered $245,000 for the Light. However, due to miscommunication about whether or not the auction would be extended, the sale failed to close, and another auction began in 2010. This time, it ended on September 28, with anonymous bidder “cedalt” making the winning bid of $195,000.
“Cedalt” was revealed to be Sheridan Reilly, a boater who had sailed past the lighthouse many times and felt it was his duty to save it in order to compensate for all the lives saved by the Light. He is seemingly unfazed by the estimated $50,000 that he has to spend each year to maintain the Light.
It’s been three years now, and we’re wondering how Mr. Reilly has fared thus far as owner of the Light (just as we were with Alex Schibli, owner of Rat Island). Read more about the West Bank Lighthouse here.
Get in touch with the author @YiinYangYale.