Coast Guard Eagle & Submarine at Race Rock

7:56am, 32°F, 2/8/24 Photo, above: Marlin Bloethe. FI/NY. (Thank you!)

What's Up at the Custom House

February 11, 2024

The Custom House is open Thurs.-- Fri., 1 to 5 PM, Sat. 1 0 AM to 5 PM; & Sun. 1 to 5 PM. (Winter hours)

JIBBOOM Club #1 meetings recommence Tues., March 19 at 1:30 PM.

Photo: Charles Addams New Yorker cover, February 10, 1951. Charles Addams was a frequent visitor on Long Island. Could this be inspired by Race Rock Light?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Will New London play in old London? More about this exciting project next week...

It all has to do with the fog horn...

Photo, below: Singer David Tamulevich had the lungs to make a recording of the original Harbor Light fog horn.

At the turn of the last century, summer Pequot Colony residents were bothered by blare of Harbor Light's fog horn. A move was on to remove it...

What was the problem?

Photos, left: (top) The 'new' fog horn was mounted off the lantern. postcard dated 1901. (middle) The 'old' fog horn on view at the Custom House. (bottom) This detail of a 1909 stereoscope card shows the 'old' fog horn reinstalled and protruding from the (steam) boiler house at Harbor Light. (above) a 1903 article in The Day. US National Archives.

When Ledge Light was built one mile offshore (1909), new fog horns were added. Harbor Light's fog signal was discontinued in Sept. 1911.

Photo, below: the fog rising off FT Trumbull at 8:49 AM Saturday, February 10, 2024.

Photo: docents Steve & Shiloh Hamby in action.

Donations like yours make moments like this possible.

Your generous contributions sustain NLMS and our initiatives, including the Custom House Maritime Museum, the successful continuation of Jibboom Club #1 (over 16 years) and our third-grade Local History & Landmarks program (15 years).

please DONATE today!

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

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

or Sign up online.

Be Mine, Valentine! Visit the museum Shop.

Valentine's SALE Feb. 11 -- 10% off, Members receive 20% discount.

Twenty Boat Buttered Run chocolate bars.

Coming soon: a new Ledge Light t-shirt. Email Regan to reserve yours!

We have something for everyone's Valentine at the museum Gift Shop.

By appointment year-round

& a wonderful Valentine's Day surprise

Visit Inside NL Harbor Pequot Light

It's Long Island Sound's oldest and tallest lighthouse.

Photo: a Harbor Lighthouse wedding.

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.

A last word on our Pawlonia tomentosa

The one remaining Palownia tree was cut down last week by the City, which owns the Custom House property. The trunk was quite hollow and riddled with poison ivy.

Here is a 2001 column from Day columnist Steven Slosberg.

Thanks to Sharon Brown for sharing this clipping.

Sun., Feb. 25, 6-9 PM

Open Mic at the Museum

Open Mic meets on the last Sunday of the month at the beautiful Custom House Maritime Museum. 

Co-hosted by Kenny "Doc" Frazier and Christina Corcoran, our monthly open mic welcomes music, poetry, prose, stand-up, or you can just say what is on your mind.

Photo, above: a performer at January's Open Mic.

March 19, 1:30 PM

JIBBOOM Club #1 returns in another month with author Peter J. Emanuel, Jr. and the launch of his first book, Course Change.

The Stonington, a whaleship from New London, Connecticut, is sailing a course for home after being at sea for more than three years. When it pulls into San Diego, California in September 1846 for food and supplies, the crew learns that war has broken out between the United States and Mexico. The town is under siege by Mexican forces, leaving the US inhabitants no escape route but the sea. In response to their desperate situation, the Stonington’s captain allows them to take refuge aboard his ship. Thus begins the first step in what would become the Stonington’s months-long tour of duty as a member of the US Navy’s Pacific Squadron.

Sponsored by the Maco Family Fund, events are free and open to all. See you March 19!

Photo, above: A recent visit from Mitchell College students!

This week at the Custom House

I am temporarily in an observer's role at the Custom House.

All's well after a foot surgery -- and thank you to everyone whose been so super nice & helpful. But feet are delicate; I will be at home for several more weeks. Please fill me in and send photos and pertinent news items to: (Thank you Marlin! )

Regan now has the Shop loaded with new merch for Spring and also is developing a series of new lighthouse t-shirts. Christina & Ben have hauled out the old whaleboat float in preparation for NL's St Patrick's Day parade.

Tours continue. Last Sunday, Jim & Henry hosted Laura Gray, a new friend from Old Saybrook, with whom we are working on possibly adopting the Lynde Point Lighthouse. Already Laura & Bart Gullong have collected 101 pledges of funding and volunteer hours in Old Saybrook to support NLMS's application for stewardship. We should hear pretty soon.

It was a year ago we learned Peter Emanuel would soon be retiring. Every February for years Peter has brought his Williams School students to visit the Custom House to learn the Amistad story. As soon as we heard of his book project, we nabbed Peter as a speaker for JIBBOOM. His new book will be available for purchase at the March 19 event, and we hope to have advance copies in the Shop even before that!

What else is coming up?

It's Black History Month and the Connecticut Freedom Trail has just launched a new website. (We've been on the Trail since 2011.) You'll be amazed at how our group has grown and by the number of activities now offered.

  • This Friday, Feb 16, is the Discovering Amistad Freedom Forum at CT's Old State House in Hartford. This in-person event is FREE and open to the public. Registration is not required, but kindly RSVP.

  • A celebration of the new U.S. Postal Service first-class 'Forever' stamp honoring CT's Constance Baker Motley will be held at the Chester Meeting House (4 Liberty St.) on Saturday, Feb. 17, 3 pm. Issued in the Black Heritage series, Judge Motley’s stamp joins those of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and John Lewis. Judge Motley is being honored as the first Black woman federal judge, a ground-breaking Civil Rights attorney, and the first Black woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. For more information and full press release, go to the Chester Historical Society.

At the Public Library of New London, join Lonnie Braxton in the Community Room on February Fridays at 6 PM for his annual Black History Month film screenings.

Support the New London Currach Rowers and attend a concert of Irish Music! It's Saturday February 24, 4 PM, at the Stumble Inne Restaurant and Pub in Old Lyme. Purchase your tickets in advance, $20. The Band The Bards of Gungywamp will play and the Spirited Soles Irish Dancers will perform at the band's intermission.

Thursday Feb. 29, 6 PM is the NL County Historical Society's 154th Annual Meeting.

The 3rd edition of the Hempsted diary will be available for purchase. This edition includes additional content and an updated index. Pat Schaefer will discuss the changes, and the work she coordinated to get the book published. The book cost is $75.00. It will be available for online purchase in the next few days.

The New London St Patrick's Day Parade is on the day, itself: Sun., March 17, at 1 PM.

And plan ahead to volunteer to help at Save the Sound's Earth Day Coastal Cleanup - it's Sunday April 21!

We congratulate Philip Michalowski on receiving the Connecticut Arts Hero Award:

Phil is a municipal planner and development administrator who has lived in New London for over 50 years. In 1990, he volunteered to assist the Garde Arts Center Board of Trustees in winning public and private funding for the development of the historic 1400-seat Garde Theater. He has a deep understanding of the synergy of the arts with community linkages, economic development generation and civic pride. By leading from behind the scene, Phil ensures that New London is a beacon of diverse programming, economic promise and cultural leadership for the region, state and nation. He is one of New London’s most frequent arts patrons lending his support to artists, arts institutions and art events.

--Susan Tamulevich

We're online & on Facebook!

  • Watch New London HarborCam, our 24/7 eye on the harbor. It's a little like Slow TV, with 5.4M views

Photo: Kids practice bicycle tricks on NL Waterfront Park.

  • 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.

Photo: the whaleboat float - ready to be made beautiful once again. Christina Corcoran.

  • 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

Photo, below: the Casino and silenced Harbor Lighthouse, Pequot Avenue, New London, ca. 1912. glass slide. NLMS Collection.

Happy Lunar New Year!

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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