As the Japanese began their military buildup for World War II, they built lighthouses on a number of Pacific Islands. Many of those lighthouses were destroyed during the war. The one the Japanese built on Garapan in the Northern Mariana Islands north of Guam is one of the best surviving examples. Since the war, the Northern Marianas have been a U.S. territory, and there's a good chance that the lighthouse, on what's now called Navy Hill, might be saved as part of the new Mariana Trench Marine National Monument. The lighthouse is on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places. Local residents have formed a Saipan Lighthouse Historical Society to help save it.
The Northern Mariana Islands Department of Lands and Natural Resources is looking into the idea of preserving the lighthouse and turning it into a visitor's center or educational center. Watch for a report in May 2011.
The lighthouse, a 50-foot (15-meter) high concrete tower, has a one-story keeper's house. The building was expanded and used as a restaurant, but that closed in 1995. The lighthouse is now gutted, open to the elements and in bad shape. But it's on a hill -- and safe from erosion.