What's Up at the Custom House

April 7, 2024

The Hambeys put us on to the opportunity: whale bones!

We immediately said yes.

But they had to be moved - quickly.

A basketball court was to be built Thursday at the Benny Dover Middle School and if we couldn't take them the bones would end up buried.

NL Dept. of Public Works came to the rescue. Tuesday morning they arrived at our back gate on Water Street with a flatbed of bones! Gene Parise made a video.

Photo, above: Christina Corcoran greeting the delivery and the NL DPW crew.

According to Henry Savin, for many years these very bones, and others, sat on the bank at Columbia Cove -- the small beach just south of the swing bridge. One day they disappeared. Read all bout it in the Day, December 2, 2001.

The Custom House is open Thurs.-- Fri. 1 to 5 PM,

Sat. 1 0 AM to 5 PM, & Sun. 1 to 5 PM.

Donations like yours make moments like this.

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High School students in a program at the Seaport visited the Custom House last week. Quite a few were from New London and remembered climbing on the whale bones at Benny Dover at recess.

Cheers to our sponsors - Charter Oak Credit Union - Chelsea Groton Foundation - Community Foundation of Eastern CT - Eleven+ - Frank Loomis Palmer Fund - General Dynamics/Electric Boat - Maco Family Fund - Robinson+Cole - Veolia/NL Water Authority - Yankee Remodeler. Thank you!

Photo, below: Everything's here! submarine, Navy escorts, Eagle, tugs, ferry!

Tuesday, April 16, 1:30 PM


In light of the recent tragedy in Baltimore, on April 16 Joseph Maco will give a re-creation of what might have happened at the Key Bridge, how it possibly could have been prevented, and who is going to pay for it all.

Joe has over 50 years experience in the maritime world. He holds an Unlimited Master USCG license, is a CT, NY,RI, MA State Licensed ship pilot, marine simulator trainer and accident investigator, Flag-state inspector, CT Pilot Commissioner, and numerous maritime associations.

Jibboom is not a club, but a friendly gathering with a speaker, treats, and good fellowship. The event is FREE to all - please come on April 16, 1:30 PM, and bring a friend. Sponsored by the Maco Family Fund. Photo: Joe Maco.

It was wet, windy, and cold, but across three days last week, they reattached the gilt figurehead to the USCG barque Eagle. We watched it on the HarborCam.

What can you do with an NLMS membership?

You know us from museum visits, Jibboom events, and Lighthouse tours, but did you know NLMS members also have access to research materials, extra discounts in the Shop and to special events?

Become an NLMS member - sign up today (pdf). or Sign up online.

By appointment year-round

a popular destination for more than a century.

Visit Inside NL Harbor Pequot Light

It's Long Island Sound's oldest and tallest lighthouse. Photo: Christina Corcoran.

Climb 116 steps up into the lighthouse lantern. The views are spectacular!​ Tours take approximately 40 minutes. To book a tour for up-to five people, send us an email.

Tours are available every Saturday and Sunday at 11:45, or you may schedule a custom time during the week. Please provide two day's notice for a custom tour. Tickets are $35, $30 for NLMS members, $25 youth through age 18.

Sunday, April 28, 6-9 PM

Open Mic at the Museum

Our 35th monthly Open Mic welcomes music, poetry, prose, stand-up -- or you can just say what's on your mind. Come on, give it a try; it's a friendly crowd.

Co-hosted by Kenny "Doc" Frazier and Christina Corcoran, Open Mic meets on the last Sunday of the month at the beautiful Custom House Maritime Museum.

Couldn't make it downtown? The program was livestreamed on the Custom House Maritime Museum's Facebook page, where you can find it. 

Photo, above: March's Open Mic.

Photo, below: The Saturday crew with docent Jim Flood.

SALE ends April 7 -- today!

Come to New London and celebrate the new sidewalks & the extension of our terrific 20%-off SALE! (30% for NLMS members.) Visit the SHOP!

Because of disturbances on the street, we extended the Shop SALE through today, Sunday! But only you -- our email blast readers -- know.

Many new items are out for Spring, like these dog leashes with brass marine hardware & nautical knotting.

This week at the Custom House

Whale bones? --amazing! USCG cadets? -- just in the nick of time!

You never know what or who's up next at the Custom House.

In the past, the back courtyard was sprayed every spring to eliminate bugs and weeds. That practice stopped some time ago, but what to do? The right answer probably was to turn the courtyard into a clover meadow, but there have been ticks. Last summer's slide in that direction also brought complaints. So this year we're trying something new. With incredible verve six USCG cadets took on the challenge of laying down landscape cloth. It took them all of Saturday, and we'll now need a grant -- or kind donor -- to pay for an inch or two of crushed clam shells. But with the whale bones and the shells, the courtyard should remain orderly for years to come.

Last week, I came across a blog illustrated with an 1881 Lippincott's magazine engraving of the Custom House. When asked, the blogger kindly sent me a copy, above, and we got to talking. Karen Dale Dustman is a New London native now residing 'in the wilds of California.' She publishes at Clairitage.com. Karen has written a lot about the Whaling City. Her favorite story concerns the Rogereens, and she thrilled hearing about our many Rogereen connections. Researching family histories is her passion. The blog was named for her mother Claire, who led the campaign to preserve NL's Union Station. Her father William Dale was a pianist and head of the music department at Connecticut College. Small world: I knew them both, and so did many of you.

Work continues downtown on the sidewalks. It's encouraging to see so many beautification efforts going forth. My favorite is the man covering up the graffiti, who was out wielding his paint brush Saturday. I will be doing some clean-up, myself, attacking the Briney Bank Border next week.

A change is in the air. Lighthouse tours have picked up -- we had twins Thursday from Utah. I submitted the revised application for the Lynde Point Lighthouse (fingers crossed there). We've received a plan for replacing the museum roof from Crosskey Architects. I'd say we're off!

--Susan Tamulevich

We're online & on Facebook!

Photo: Jennifer Donnell brought us a US Customs document -- a donation from the Jane Donnell Revocable Trust in loving memory of C. Philip Donnell, III and Jane MacDonald Donnell. Jane is here with docent Regan Morse. Photo: Christina Corcoran.

  • View Online Exhibitions of New London Maritime History from the Custom House Maritime Museum's Frank L. McGuire Library.
  • Facebook the Custom House SHOP for gifts with an extra feel good factor -- when you shop with us your purchases support our exhibitions, & educational programs. Out Sale runs through Saturday, March 30.

Photo: Cadets wrestle the vertabrea. Last week we posted a photo of the bones on facebook and asked people to guess what they were. The winner, Dave Spinelli, replied from Colorado. He'll receive a special discount in the Shop.

  • We're on Instagram! @nlmaritime.

Photo: Joel M. Fuller donated a small bottle of whale oil from John Fuller, watchmaker, Boston, MA. It was from his grandfather's Jeweler's Shop.

Easy - effective - earth-friendly. Tru-earth laundry detergent is sold in strips -- no plastic! Support the NL Maritime Society while protecting the earth. Find out more at http://tru-earth.sjv.io/NewLondonMaritimeSociety Thanks!

Photo, below: the USCG cadets who transformed the courtyard on Saturday.

Have a Sparkling Day!


The CUSTOM HOUSE MARITIME MUSEUM is open Wed., 1-5 PM, Thurs. 1 to 5 PM, Fri., 1 to 5 PM, Sat. 1 0 AM to 5 PM, Sun. 1 to 5 PM.

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