Real Estate

Wanna Live on the Water? This Virginia Lighthouse Is for Sale.

Located on its own island in the Chesapeake Bay, the property puts "a new perspective on adventure."

Photograph by Caroline Flowers.

Virginia is one of 14 states that offer rental stays in lighthouses—but for DC-area residents looking to own one of these beacons of light, that dream can now be a reality.

For $450,000 (in cash), the lighthouse at 00 Smith Point, Lighthouse in Reedville can be yours. Located on its own island in the Chesapeake Bay, it was built in 1897 and purchased from an auction held by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard in late 2005. The property is part of the National Historic Registry, and the Coast Guard maintains its lamp as an active aid to navigation.

The property has four bedrooms and one bathroom across 1,500 square feet. Current owner Dave McNally spent about five years renovating the property before using it as a vacation home for his family. McNally would travel from his home in Minnesota with a crew of about three to eight people, hauling materials out on the water and working on the property for a week at a time. Despite the challenge, the self-described “adventurer” McNally has never looked back.

0 Smith Point Rd. kitchen. Photograph by Dave McNally.

“I don’t think you will ever appreciate adventures until you own a lighthouse,” McNally said. “It puts a whole new perspective on adventure.”

For listing agent Beth Groner, selling a lighthouse is far from typical—and might take longer to sell than her usual listings. “In terms of who I think the [ideal] buyer might be, it’s someone who gives back in ways where they are donating to causes they’re passionate about,” she said. “I think [a potential buyer] is someone who is sort of an adventurer and looks at this as a cool passion project.”

While there may be other lighthouses available for purchase in the DC-area, Groner says that this one is unique for the level of upkeep. Another selling point: its atypical financing. Located on the water, it is not considered residential property and therefore owners pay no property taxes. As a lighthouse, the property is unable to be insured and requires a cash sale.

McNally, 73, said that owning a lighthouse requires a certain level of passion and dedication—and after nearly two decades, it’s time for him to say goodbye to the property. “It was quite a run,” he said “I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the whole nine yards. I don’t have any regrets of what I did, how I did it, or who I did it with.”

Egan Ward
Editorial Fellow