New London Maritime Society granted ownership of Ledge Light

A tale of two icons: The whaler Charles W. Morgan approaches New London Ledge Light on May 17 as the ship enters the Thames River at the beginning of its historic 38th voyage.
A tale of two icons: The whaler Charles W. Morgan approaches New London Ledge Light on May 17 as the ship enters the Thames River at the beginning of its historic 38th voyage.

New London - The view of the Connecticut shoreline and Fishers Island Sound from the lantern room high atop New London Harbor Light is dotted with more lighthouses than from any other location on Earth, according to its owners.

Most clearly visible, perched at the mouth of the Thames River, is New London Ledge Light, the 105-year-old three-story cubic brick lighthouse which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Interior granted ownership of the historic lighthouse to the New London Maritime Society, which now owns all three major beacons that direct vessels into historic New London Harbor - Ledge Light, New London Harbor Light and Race Rock Light.

"Owning these three diverse, awe-inspiring lighthouses was the vision of the Maritime Society five years ago, when we first adopted New London Harbor Light, and now, at last, that vision has come true," Susan Tamulevich, director of the New London Maritime Society and Custom House Maritime Museum, said.

The society took ownership of New London Harbor Light, which is the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Long Island Sound, in October 2010. And in July 2013, the society became the owner of Race Rock Light.

The Department of the Interior awarded the maritime society ownership of the lighthouse upon recommendation of the National Park Service as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. The lighthouse had been deemed "surplus federal real property" and placed under the control of the General Services Administration.

"I applaud the commitment of the New London Maritime Society to the preservation of our nation's maritime heritage in accepting stewardship of the New London Ledge Light Station," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell wrote in a letter to Tamulevich.

Aside from a fee of about $100 to have the deed legally conveyed to the society, Tamulevich said, there will be no cost associated with the lighthouse transfer.

The maritime society has been working in partnership with the Ledge Light Foundation to take ownership of the lighthouse and will continue to partner with the nonprofit to preserve its history.

"Our foundation and the Maritime Society have worked for a year and a half to make our case that as local entities committed to preserving our local lighthouses, we should be awarded stewardship to Ledge Light," Ledge Light Foundation President Todd Gipstein said in a statement. "This is the start of an exciting and historic chapter in the 105-year story of Ledge Lighthouse."

Earlier this year, the maritime society embarked on a project to restore New London Harbor Light off Pequot Avenue. The first phase of that restoration is almost complete and will have been paid for entirely through community donations and profits from the maritime society's "Sentinels on the Sound" lighthouse boat trips.

"People came forward and all this help came from the community," Tamulevich said. "It is overwhelming and just feels so very wonderful that we're preserving things that are so special to everyone."

An official conveyance ceremony for Ledge Light is in the works for June 2015 at the lighthouse, Tamulevich said.

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

The USS Missouri (SSN 780) travels past the New London Harbor Light as it heads out to sea on March 24 from the vantage point of Eastern Point Beach Park in Groton. The New London Ledge Light will join the Harbor Light and Race Rock Light under the control of the New London Maritime Society.
The USS Missouri (SSN 780) travels past the New London Harbor Light as it heads out to sea on March 24 from the vantage point of Eastern Point Beach Park in Groton. The New London Ledge Light will join the Harbor Light and Race Rock Light under the control of the New London Maritime Society.
Clouds hang Tuesday over Long Island Sound and Race Rock Light as seen from New London. Race Rock is one of three local lighthouses now owned by the New London Maritime Society. The society recently was granted ownership of New London Ledge Light, adding it to Race Rock and the New London Harbor Light.
Clouds hang Tuesday over Long Island Sound and Race Rock Light as seen from New London. Race Rock is one of three local lighthouses now owned by the New London Maritime Society. The society recently was granted ownership of New London Ledge Light, adding it to Race Rock and the New London Harbor Light.

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