Maritime Society apt owner of New London lighthouses

Congratulations to the New London Maritime Society in obtaining their goal of taking possession of all three major lighthouses that grace the eastern end of Long Island Sound.

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Interior officially granted the nonprofit society ownership of New London Ledge Light, the distinctive four-square, two-story, colonial-style brick building that sits at the confluence of the Sound and the Thames River. The 105-year-old lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The maritime society, which operates the Custom House Maritime Museum on Bank Street in New London, previously took ownership of the New London Harbor Light in 2010, a structure that dates to 1801, and of the Race Rock Light at the eastern end of Long Island in 2013.

The Department of Interior is divesting the federal government of many of its lighthouses in accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. The legislation recognized that state and local governments, nonprofit corporations, educational agencies, and community development groups - organizations with emotional and historical ties to these icons of our martime past - are more likely to maintain them.

Under the act, those agencies taking control, "must make the station available for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes for the general public at reasonable times and under reasonable conditions." The Maritime Society has been doing just that with its popular "Sentinels on the Sound" lighthouse boat trips.

The society has also been managing the restoration project at the Harbor Light, located off Pequot Avenue in New London.

Assuming control and maintenance responsibility for the three lighthouses poses a significant challenge, but one the society has demonstrated it can meet through its fundraising efforts and with help from volunteers. Possessing the three will provide the NLMS flexibility in promoting fundraising and in packaging lighthouse tours to raise revenues and boost public interest.

To find out how you can donate and assist, visit www.nlmaritimesociety.org.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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