What's Up at the Custom House

May 26, 2024

More field trips! NLMS educator Christina Corcoran brought third-grade students from Jennings Elementary to visit on Friday.

Photo, top: Selfies in the Kids Ahoy room! Photo, above: docent Jim Flood tells the Amistad story.

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

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

Here we were on May 22, 2024 - National Maritime Day.

Photo, below, from left: Carolyn Leuze, Alice Houston, and I hosted a clam cake & chowda' lunch at Capt. Scott's; 2024 National Maritime Day ceremony; NLMS trustee Joe Maco addresses the National Maritime Day audience. Here is the President's 2024 Proclamation.

Donations like yours make moments like this.

Your generous gifts sustain the Custom House museum, keeping it a friendly, open community center.

Please DONATE today!

This week, the Chelsea Groton Foundation approved a $3,000.00 grant to the New London Maritime Society, which -- June through December, 2024 -- will co-sponsor admission to the Custom House (free) & to Harbor & Ledge Lighthouses ($5, each) for all New London residents! We want you out there! Photo, above: 2023 visitors to Ledge Lighthouse!

Cheers to our sponsors - Anthony and Elizabeth Enders Fund - Charter Oak Credit Union - Chelsea Groton Foundation - Community Foundation of Eastern CT - Eleven+ - Frank Loomis Palmer Fund - Kozmik Music Services - Maco Family Fund - Robinson+Cole - Veolia/NL Water Authority - Yankee Remodeler. Thank you!

today - Sunday, May 26, 6-9 PM

Open Mic at the Museum

Our 36th 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 supportive 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. Sponsored by Kozmik Music Service.

Can't make it downtown?

Open Mic can be watched live at 6 PM on the

Custom House Maritime Museum's Facebook page.

Now in the Shop - NEW BOOKS!

Photo, above: a new selection by author/Illustrator, & sometimes award winner (for the ‘The Big Books’ series), environmentalist, and London dweller Yuval Zommer.


We're trying something new

Custom House Community Case

What would you put in a museum?

Our new Community Case offers local groups/individuals an opportunity to showcase collections that are important to them.

We are keen to support local people to share their research on local topics, archives and artifacts. The Community Case will be open to the public whenever the Custom House is open and new displays will be installed every 2-3 months, as available.

Please email your idea for a display to: nlmaritimedirector@gmail.com.

Visit Harbor Light!

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, above: Christina Corcoran.

Climb 116 steps up into the lighthouse lantern. The views are spectacular!​ Tours for up-to five people take approximately 40 minutes. We offer tours every Saturday at noon. To book a tour at other times, 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 a minimum of two day's notice for a custom tour. Tickets are $35, $30 for NLMS members, $25 youth 8 through age 18.

Sound Outlook - DEEP's Spring online newsletter contains a catalog of CT lighthouses and an explanation of why Public Access is important. excerpt, below.



Connecticut has one of the highest coastal population densities in the nation, which has led to the development and private ownership of, and a shortage of public access to, most of our shoreline. One avenue that ensures the public has a protected right to shoreline access is the public trust area, which has been upheld across the world for centuries by the Public Trust Doctrine.


The Public Trust Doctrine, which grants the public rights to access the submerged lands of navigable waters, has origins dating back to Roman civil law under the reign of Emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D., with roots as far back as the natural law of Greek philosophers in the second century. A section of Book II of the Institutes of Justinian remains the foundation of today’s Public Trust Doctrine:


“By the law of nature these things are common to all mankind – the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea. No one, therefore, is forbidden to approach the seashore, provided that he respects habitations, monuments, and the buildings, which are not, like the sea, subject only to the law of nations.”...

As mentioned in the preceding article, Connecticut’s lighthouses are important feats of engineering and relics of our state's maritime history. However, they also provide examples of limited public access to Connecticut's historic resources, especially for people eager to visit and photograph these scenic lighthouses. While the public trust area can be used to navigate around some of these land access issues, long stretches of private upland along the shore with no public access sites can obstruct the public from effectively using their rights to pass and recreate in the public trust area and to find closer views of the lighthouses. However, in cases where a nearby public access site gives residents a place to park and access the public trust area, a closer view of one of Connecticut's distinctive lighthouses that would be otherwise impossible to access from inland roads may be a short walk or paddle away. And in cases where municipalities, whether independently or through partnerships with the Coast Guard or non-profits, work to provide public access at or near a lighthouse, these sites become iconic destinations on our coast where people can come to enjoy both the historic value of the lights and the recreational opportunity to experience the vastness of Long Island Sound, which the Public Trust Doctrine preserves as belonging to everyone.

The DEEP Land and Water Resources Division is committed to preserving and expanding public access wherever possible, and realizing that goal becomes much easier when citizens, non-profits, and municipal officials are willing to come together to form a broad coalition and create change in the spirit of Ned Coll's lifelong fight for public access to our coastline. The greater the area accessible to the public, the more we can exercise our rights within the public trust area.

Tuesday, June 18, 1:30 PM


In June our speaker is Historic Stonington executive director Elizabeth Wood, who will speak about the Stonington Lighthouse Keepers, from William Potter to Louise Pittaway. It's a cast of characters who all have stories to share and who have kept the light for 184 years. 

Jibboom is not a club, but a friendly gathering with a speaker, treats, and good fellowship. The event is FREE and open to all - please come on May 21, 1:30 PM, and bring a friend.

Sponsored by the Maco Family Fund.

More information on the collection can be found at https://primitivepines.com/beacons-through-time/.

Artist talk: June 15, through July 19

Beacons through Time

From 2022 through 2024, artist Christian Fiedler placed several hundred solargaph cameras in situ at 31 lighthouses from Georgia to Maine, oriented specifically to capture the sun’s daily transit overhead. The resulting project, Beacons Through Time, highlights lighthouses in a novel manner, showcasing extremely long exposure times and constantly shifting environs. 

This particular collection of images from the project focuses on lighthouses in and around the New London area, including two from New London Harbor Light itself.

A New Roof for New London's 1833 Custom House Museum!

The New London Maritime Society (NLMS) proudly launches its 40th anniversary campaign: A New Roof for New London's 1833 Custom House Museum. We are now reaching out for donations, including with an online Go Fund Me campaign: gofundme.com/f/NLs-1833-custom-house-roof. The goal is to replace the roof within the next three years.

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 advance notice of special events?

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

This week at the Custom House

Christina Corcoran was back with more third graders. They were here to see a display of their artwork, now up at the Custom House.

It look's like she'll be doing this again!

For the 17th time, NLMS received a grant from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, sponsored in-part by the Anthony and Elizabeth Enders Fund, to support the New London Local-History & Landmarks program for the 2024-25 school year. It was Elizabeth Enders who came up with the idea for the class based on an experience she'd had as a student at Harbor School. Elizabeth asked us to develop a similar program so that every NL child could have a similar experience. We did it!

Photo, above: Ken Huebner

Photo, above: Drawings from Mr. Covino's 3rd-grade class at Jennings Elementary School.

Ken Huebner has started working on our 19th-c harmonium. You'll remember, several years ago he restored an early 19th-c square piano -- also a donation to the museum. We received the harmonium -- a small portable organ -- in January.

Ken was at the museum to tune the piano -- recitals are coming up at the beginning of the month. June, Make Music Month, will be full of surprises.

Surprise #1: we have 5 keyboard instruments at the Custom House.

What are you doing on the 30th? This Thursday at 7 PM I will give a talk about NLMS -- the museum and lighthouses -- for the Friends of Fort Trumbull at the Conference Center, Fort Trumbull State Park and Museum, 90 Walbach St, New London, CT.


We're online & on Facebook!

photo, above: last week's Full Flower Moon.

Two trips to Fishers Island are scheduled for July 20 and August 8. We'll take the ferry over, visit the Henry Ferguson Museum, have lunch, and tour the island.

Wish list: we're still looking for a large wooden outdoor table and chairs for the museum yard.

  • 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.

  • We're on Instagram! @nlmaritime.

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 National Maritime Day crew at Scott's.

Have a Sparkling Day!


The CUSTOM HOUSE MARITIME MUSEUM is open 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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