Imagine owning a lighthouse – a towering watchtower overlooking the vast expanse of water, a symbol of both history and hope.
Sheila Consaul, a 65-year-old enthusiast for historical preservation, didn’t just imagine it – she made it a reality.
Sheila purchased an abandoned lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, for $71,000. Since then, she has invested over $300,000 to transform it into her dream summer home.
Living in a lighthouse is anything but ordinary. The first thing that stands out is the isolation.
There is no driveway leading to the main entrance. Instead, one parks half a mile away and carries all supplies – food, water, and even gasoline for the generator – by hand. But once there, the experience is unique.
Sheila’s journey began with a desire for a cooler summer retreat and a love for historical preservation.
When she heard that the government was auctioning off lighthouses, she saw the opportunity to combine both.
The lighthouse was in a state of decay when she acquired it – broken windows, crumbling plaster, and an urgent need for paint. But Sheila was not deterred.
She took out a home improvement loan and embarked on a renovation journey that would be both challenging and rewarding.
The renovation process was anything but straightforward.
The lighthouse’s remote location meant that every building material had to be transported by boat and lifted by crane.
The challenges did not end there; the lighthouse was completely off the grid.
Sheila had to rewire the entire electrical system and rely on a gasoline-powered generator for power, making gasoline another item on her long list of supplies.
Despite the hurdles, the transformation is amazing.
The lighthouse now features a fully equipped kitchen with granite countertops and modern appliances.
The electrical and plumbing systems have been completely overhauled, and the windows – once broken and unusable – are now fully functional and even have beautiful stained glass windows.
But it’s not just about the physical changes – it’s about preserving history.
The lighthouse still has its original cast-iron staircase and dark brown floors.
The cistern, which once held water for the lighthouse keepers, has been repurposed.
Now it collects rainwater, which is then treated and used throughout the house. Sheila managed to modernize the lighthouse while preserving its historical integrity.
The lighthouse is more than just a home – it is a community treasure.
Sheila understands this and has opened her doors to the public, hosting annual open house days since 2012.
The lighthouse remains an active navigational aid, its beacon maintained by the Coast Guard, shining every night as a symbol of both history and community.
Would Sheila do it again? Probably not. The journey was fulfilling but also exhausting.
She is content with her unique summer home and has no plans to rent it, although she doesn’t rule out the possibility for the future.
At the moment, she is enjoying the fruits of her labor and the unique experience of lighthouse living.
Sheila Consaul’s story shows what can be achieved when passion meets perseverance.
She didn’t just buy a property. She bought a piece of history and lovingly restored it for future generations.
Check out the full tour of the lighthouse in the video below!
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