Imagine owning a lighthouse — a towering sentinel overlooking the vast expanse of water, a beacon of both history and hope.
Sheila Consaul, a 65-year-old historic preservation enthusiast, didn’t just imagine it — she made it a reality.
Sheila purchased an abandoned lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, for $71,000. She has since invested over $300,000 to turn it into her dream summer home.
Living in a lighthouse is far from ordinary. The first thing you’ll notice is the isolation.
There’s no driveway leading up to the front door. Instead, you park half a mile away and carry all your supplies—food, water, and even gas for the generator—by hand. But once you’re there, the experience is unparalleled.
Sheila’s journey began with a desire for a cooler summer retreat and a love for historic preservation.
When she heard about the government auctioning off lighthouses, she saw an opportunity to combine both.
The lighthouse was in a state of disrepair when she acquired it — broken windows, crumbling plaster, and a desperate need for paint. Yet, Sheila was undeterred.
She took out a home equity 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 piece of construction material had to be transported by boat and lifted by crane.
The challenges didn’t stop there; the lighthouse was completely off the grid.
Sheila had to rewire the entire electrical system and rely on a gasoline-powered generator for electricity, making fuel another item on her long list of supplies to carry.
Despite the hurdles, the transformation is astonishing.
The lighthouse now boasts a full kitchen, complete with granite countertops and modern appliances.
The electrical and plumbing systems have been entirely revamped, and the windows—once shattered and useless — are now fully functional and even feature beautiful stained glass.
But it’s not just about the physical changes — it’s about preserving history.
The lighthouse still features its original cast-iron staircase and dark brown floors.
Even the cistern that once held water for the lighthouse keepers has been repurposed.
Now, it collects rainwater, which is then treated and used throughout the home. Sheila has managed to modernize the lighthouse while maintaining its historical integrity.
The lighthouse is more than a home — it’s a community treasure.
Sheila understands this and has opened her doors to the public, hosting annual open houses since 2012.
The lighthouse also remains an active aid to navigation, its beacon maintained by the Coast Guard and lighting up every night as a symbol of both history and community.
Would Sheila do it all over again? Probably not. The journey has been fulfilling but also exhausting.
She’s content with her unique summer home and has no plans to rent it out, although she doesn’t rule out the possibility in the future.
For now, she’s enjoying the fruits of her labor and the unparalleled 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 to admire.
Check out the full tour of the lighthouse in the video below!
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