What's Up at the Custom House

March 31, 2024

The Eagle is back! Photo, top: We caught her coming in Friday on the NL HarborCam.

HAPPY EASTER! March Open Mic is tonight!

The Custom House is open Thurs.-- Fri., 1 to 5 PM, Sat. 1 0 AM to 5 PM; & Sun. 1 to 5 PM. The Custom House is closed today Sunday, March 31, for Easter.

Donations like yours make moments like this.

Your generous contributions

sustain NLMS.

Please DONATE today!

Tours to Ledge & Race Rock Light start in June.

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!

tonight Sunday, March 31 (yes, Easter!), 6-9 PM

Open Mic at the Museum

Our 34th 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.

Can't make it downtown? The program will be livestreamed on the Custom House Maritime Museum's Facebook page. Photos: performers at Feb.'s Open Mic.

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.

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.

SALE extended through April 7.

Blame the Sidewalks!

Come to New London and celebrate the new sidewalks & the extension of our terrific SALE!

Because of disturbances on the street, we are extending the Shop SALE one more week! But only you -- our email blast readers -- will know. See you there! Many new items already are out for Spring. Visit the SHOP!

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 will speak at the April Jibboom.

This week at the Custom House

Old friends came into play this week at the Custom House.

I think of Ellery Thompson as the best old friend I never met. Last week I led a book talk on the fisherman/artist/author/local character's Draggerman's Haul at Historic Stonington's Palmer House. Ellery was the one local notable I had heard of when I went to work -- briefly -- as curator at the Palmer House in 2021. That year Marian Krepcio, Bernie Gordon, and I put on the first exhibition of Ellery Thompson's paintings since Ellery's death in 1986. I started that ball rolling, but Marian and Bernie were the heart of the enterprise; each of them knew and supported Ellery over many years. Some time later at the Custom House Andrew Blacker , Steven Jones, and I put together a 111th birthday celebration & exhibition for Ellery. As in Stonington, we started with one group of paintings and by the end of the exhibition that number near doubled, as area fans either loaned or donated their Thompson oils to us: he was a populist hero.

Ellery had a much good luck, then and now. Historic Stonington executive director Liz Wood and I dithered about dates for the talk before coming up with last Thursday, and -- wouldn't you know it -- Ellery turned 125 the same week -- today, in fact -- he was born on Easter day, 1899. As happens when talking about Ellery, in addition to curious newcomers, members of the local fishing community came out for the talk, along with people of a certain age who still remember his holding court in his booth at the Mystic Art Festival -- great stories, laughs.

In fact, there is no better book to understand what life on the local waterfront was like. A natural storyteller, Ellery had a keen eye for detail, lifelong curiosity, and fine sense of humor. But I couldn't help feeling wistful. My direct links to Ellery are gone: Bernie Gordon died some time ago, and Marian Krepcio passed just last year. Happy Birthday, Ellery.

The best friend any museum director ever had, Alice Houston, far right, above, threw a dinner party after my book talk -- what a delight. She's helped before. Years ago, when a temperamental painter walked out a week before his exhibition was scheduled to open, Alice said: well how about doing a show of Inuit maritime prints? & just like that she produced stunning works depicting terns, seals, and walrus from the Houston collection! It was one of the most memorable and beautiful exhibitions we've every had. Another time, to get the museum some attention, Alice donated the terrific 18' pennant, above, that flew atop the museum until the flag fell to tatters. And just before COVID, she orchestrated our first National Lighthouse Day dinner/fundraiser at the museum.

Thank you, again, Alice, for everything.

Last week, I was able to spend time with two old NLMS friends whom many of you will remember: Bill LaRoue, our longtime head docent, and Rob Pittaway, an honorary trustee and a founder of the revived Jibboom Club. Here they both are in a picture for 2019. Bill came into town last week for lunch and to revisit the museum. I went to see Rob, who currently is recuperating from a fall at Pendelton in Mystic. (Rob would love for his friends to visit. Bring doughnuts.)

On Friday we caught up with another old friend, the USCG Eagle, which returned to port that morning. Often moored at Ft Trumbull, she is a stately, friendly familiar out the museum's south windows and on the NL HarborCam.

Speaking of Jibboom, aren't you curious if any of our cranes, tugs, and vessels are headed down to help out in Baltimore? Joe Maco will have answers for us on April 16.

We are extending the Spring Sale one more week through next Sunday, April 7.

Visit our sale. Celebrate the new sidewalks.

See you at Open Mic tonight -- if only on facebook!

--Susan Tamulevich

We're online & on Facebook!

A book for children related to the accident in Baltimore,

 I Ship: A Container Ship's Colossal Journey. Come aboard a massive container ship as it pulls into port, loads up with cargo, and heads out to the open ocean. The ship’s voyage includes starry skies and stormy seas, swift currents and unforeseen delays. Through it all, the crew keeps working―with goods to keep the world going, they must carry on. Photo, above: now in the Shop.

  • 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: Rick Waterhouse and his Patnodes next door at the Waterhouse Salon.

  • We're on Instagram! @nlmaritime.

Photo, above: 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!

Happy Easter. 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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