'Very good summer'

It has been quite a summer for the New London Maritime Society (NLMS). On July 13 at ceremonies behind the society's Custom House office, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a series of new lighthouse stamps, including a depiction of the New London Harbor Light. Since 2010 the Maritime Society has been the steward for the scenic lighthouse that dates to 1801.

The event followed by just a couple of weeks the formal transfer of control of the Race Rock Light from the U.S. Coast Guard to the New London Maritime Society. In accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, the Race Rock Light is one of 63 lighthouses that the U.S. General Services Administration has transferred from federal authority to private preservation groups.

Race Rock Light is located in the agitated and often dangerous waters of the Race, the narrows between the northeastern tip of Long Island and Fishers Island. Built on Race Rock Reef, it took from 1871 through 1878 to complete, most of that time spent building the large masonry foundation on which the granite lighthouse and keeper's quarters sit.

During Sailfest last weekend, the replica of the slave ship Amistad returned for a brief visit to the pier behind the Custom House. The Custom House is where the original "La Amistad" moored after a slave rebellion, and where it remained during the legal case ending with the U.S. Supreme Court ordering the rebellious slaves freed. The NLMS continues to tell that story to Custom House visitors.

As society director Susan Tamulevich notes, "It's been a very good summer."

It's not over. Next Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Port 'N Starboard in Ocean Beach Park the NLMS will host a "gala celebration" fundraiser as part of the "Be Part of Something BIG" campaign. The goal of the campaign is to raise $150,000 from the public toward the $300,000 restoration of New London Harbor Light.

At 89-feet tall, it is the tallest and oldest lighthouse in the state, but it needs to be scraped, re-pointed and painted, a big and costly job. Those wishing to attend the gala or help in some other way can call 860-447-2501.

A great summer continues.

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