~ brief history — 1999 ~
Save The Light, Inc. buys the historic lighthouse for $75,000 to preserve it for the people of South Carolina. In 2000, the lighthouse is transferred to the State of South Carolina through the Department of Natural Resources. The lighthouse is leased to Save The Light, Inc. for 99 years to coordinate the stabilization, erosion control and restoration of the lighthouse and to raise the necessary funds for that work.
In 1996, Columbia businessman Paul Gunter got the lighthouse and 80 acres of submerged land in a foreclosure action against Speedy Felkel. He announced his plans to sell the lighthouse for $100,000. A citizens group, Save The Light, quickly organized to encourage the preservation of the lighthouse for the citizens of South Carolina. While both Charleston County and the State of South Carolina expressed interest in the Morris Island Lighthouse, neither was willing to pay for it. Concerned that yet another real estate developer may purchase the lighthouse, Save The Light, Inc. bought the lighthouse from Mr. Gunter in February 1999 for $75,000.
"The Post and Courier", in a February 1999 editorial, states:
The lighthouse is one of Charleston's best known and most beloved landmarks, and the public owes a debt of gratitude to Save The Light for its willingness to deal with the frustrating title issue and to make the significant investment for its purchase . . . The local community and the state should help complete the job it [Save The Light] has started.
Since the date of purchase, Save The Light has been dedicated to transferring ownership to the State of South Carolina through the Heritage Trust program, a program within the SC Department of Natural Resources. The act establishing the Heritage Trust program gives it the responsibility for the preservation of the important "natural areas" and "cultural areas" of the state. In the Heritage Trust Act, a "cultural area or feature" is defined as an "outstanding example of our historical or archaeological heritage and a site of special historic interest or containing outstanding remnants of the way of life and significant events of the past." It is clear that the Morris Island Lighthouse falls under this definition. In fact, the Heritage Trust Program Board agreed as well. In its February 2000 board meeting, it recognized the Morris Island Lighthouse as one of the top 100 cultural sites in the State of South Carolina and forwarded its unanimous recommendation to the DNR board to acquire the lighthouse from Save The Light. A mutually acceptable transfer has been negotiated with the Heritage Trust Program Board. On April 21, 2000, the Board of Directors for the SC Department of Natural Resources unanimously voted to accept title to the Morris Island Lighthouse.