If you’ve ever wished that real estate had an equivalent to the thrift-slash-antique store, the GSA government property auction website is definitely the Thursday afternoon cubicle timesuck for you. It combines the obsolete aesthetics of thrifting (the GSA website is endearingly “Geocities in 1996”) with the diamond-in-the-rough satisfaction of finding a Chippendale table in a dusty backwoods junk store (renovate one of these $10K lighthouses and it’s not a stretch to think you could sell for twenty times that). At the very least, you could get yourself the coolest beach house on the Atlantic seaboard.
Here, then, are some of the choicest, creepiest, and weirdest finds currently up for auction by the feds.
THE EASY STREET PROPERTIES
Why does the federal government own three neighboring houses in small-town Dutton, Virginia, at 175, 179, and 180 Easy Street? There is literally no explanation for this that isn’t sinister. Add in the fact that the CIA training facility is nearby in Camp Peary, and things get even creepier. It does make a certain kind of sense that these comically nondescript little houses on would be used for spy stuff. I mean, who would ever think to look in Dutton, Virginia for intelligence assets? But what were these houses actually used for? Were they “safe houses”? “Rendition facilities”? Did they use these houses to store prisoners that they didn’t want to “put in the system”? I’ve seen television, I know how this works.
Each house starts at $99,000, which isn’t bad if you don’t mind living in Dutton, Virginia. Also keep in mind you could be cleaning the tops of the doorframes or something one day and find a tiny handwritten note reading, “Tell Natasha I love her and little Sergei and that I died serving Mother Russia.” Though on the plus side, since the neighbors probably knew that fishy government stuff went on over here, you can keep the mystery going just by being vague and strategically deploying air quotes. (“Yeah, I bought this house in a ‘government auction.’ Nothing more to the story, just a ‘regular’ ‘citizen’ over here, ha ha!”) At the very least, no one will dare harass you about cutting your lawn or putting your trash out too early. (They’ll just assume it’s a signal to your “handler.”)
A FRICKIN’ LIGHTHOUSE
Why would you have a summer house *on* the water, when you could have a summer house *in* the water? And for only $10,000! You can’t even get a Kia for ten grand. And if you doubt the design potential of a cylindrical house, think again.
The government is actually selling over a dozen different lighthouses – a few off the coast of Connecticut, and a bunch in Lake Michigan. All of them are more architecturally elegant than you’d probably expect, and a few of them are in the National Registry of Historic Places. Most are retired, but one of them will continue to operate as a navigational aid even after you buy it – what does that mean, that you have to run up to the top and ring a bell or something when it’s foggy out? Is the government going to pay you for this? These are questions that need to be answered.
Full disclosure: these lighthouses are trashed. You’d need to do some serious renovations. Also, they’re only accessible by boat, so you’d need a boat. Plus, if you’re like me and immediately had visions of your own private 360-degree beach, I’ve got bad news for you: the lighthouse islands are made of rock. Still, I think it’s worth considering, just for the possibility of living in a house with a four-story fireman’s pole.
THE SHEPHERD OF THE SEA CHAPEL
If you’ve always wanted to start your own megachurch, but haven’t gotten those five-figure donations dropping into the ol’ gold-plated collection plate yet, look no further. This 29,000 square foot chapel in Groton, CT, is ready for you to pack ’em in. All you need is a sermon or two. Come on, just admit that you’ve thought before that you have what it takes to start a new religion, probably after watching that HBO documentary about Scientology. Now’s your chance to put your (congregation’s) money where your mouth is! Gotta act fast though, bidding is already up to $300,000.
THE NORTHERN APPALACHIAN EXPERIMENTAL WATERSHED RESEARCH FACILITY
Another creepshow. A 600 acre facility with 21 buildings in the middle of small-town Ohio? Ha! Is there a single person in America who would read that description and believe that it was actually a watershed research facility? What do you think they actually did here? Spy satellite photo enhancement? Alien autopsies? MK Ultra experiments? Although now that I think about it, maybe they’re using reverse psychology and they actually were doing watershed experiments here – putting mind-control drugs in the water supply?!
Okay, sorry about that. I’m typing this in a dark silent apartment at 4am and got carried away a little there. (Seriously though, does this compound come with dissected extraterrestrials or not?)