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Frying Pan Tower Gets $25K Donation

Frying Pan Tower, a retired Coast Guard lighthouse, received a $25,000 donation from Amazon. Should keep the lights on a little longer.

Frying Pan Tower is a light tower, 39 miles of the coast of Southport, North Carolina. It was built in 1964 to keep boats away from shallow, shifting shoals. For fifteen years, four-man Coast Guard crews lived in the 5000-square-foot space, for weeks or months at a time. In 1979, the light was automated, making constant attendance unnecessary. And then in 2004, made obsolete by GPS, the station was decommissioned.

In 2010, Richard Neal bought the whole structure, with its seven bedrooms, kitchen, office, and recreation area, for a mere $85,000. He incorporated the property, and opened it as a B&B. Since then, it’s withstood storm and seas, including a near-miss from Hurricane Sandy and a direct hit by Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Now, Frying Pan Tower is the property of FPTower Inc, a nonprofit. It’s still run as a B&B, staffed by volunteers and maintained as a living piece of American maritime history. It has become a hotspot for research into offshore marine ecology, as well. Neal powers it with solar and wind energy, and the Tower filters its own water from sea water. A popular activity is shooting fish-food golf balls off the roof, and firework displays reflected in the boundless sea.

A two-night, three-day stay is $1550 per person, including round trip by boat, snorkeling, fishing, and other activities.

According to Amazon, the tower is one of most remote places in the world to which they make direct deliveries. Neal orders nearly all supplies for the tower from the corporate giant, and his deliveries are made via helicopter.

It pays to be special to Amazon, apparently. The megacorp has donated $25,000 to help keep Frying Pan Tower in operation. The nonprofit is also a partner in Amazon Smiles, their program where consumers can select a charity to receive a portion of their every purchase.

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