Harbor Light gets U.S. stamp of approval

New London - It's no wonder Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has declared this season "New London Harbor Light Summer."

The 89-foot-tall lighthouse on Pequot Avenue is about to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp, and the New London Maritime Society, which owns the iconic structure, is hosting a series of events to raise money to keep the lighthouse open to the public.

In an announcement Thursday at the foot of the lighthouse, the oldest and tallest on Long Island Sound, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio read a proclamation from the governor that he hopes will raise awareness of the region's maritime heritage and encourage historic preservation.

"This lighthouse was built under the administration of Thomas Jefferson,'' Finizio said, as a small group from the maritime society gathered on the beach.

Promoting the city's history and highlighting its maritime landmarks will be key to successful economic development, Finizio said, "and this active beacon is a strong part of our heritage.''

The mayor read the proclamation "New London Harbor Light Summer,'' which says in part: "Historic preservation encourages community reinvestment, saving resources and promoting socially, culturally and economically rich communities and the historic waterfront ..."

The Maritime Society also announced "Be Part of Something BIG," a statewide fundraising campaign to tent, scaffold, scrape, re-point and paint the lighthouse. The project is expected to cost about $300,000, according to Susan Tamulevich, director of the Custom House Maritime Museum.

The goal is to raise $150,000 from the public by October and apply to the state for a matching grant, she said.

Later this summer, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a Forever Stamp that features New London Harbor Light.

And on Thursday, the maritime society will receive the deed to Race Rock Light in Long Island Sound from the U.S. General Services Administration in a ceremony at the Custom House Museum. It will be the second lighthouse owned by the maritime society.

George Sprecace, president of the society, urged people to get involved.

"Citizens and friends,'' he said. "In all of this, we need your personal and financial support. We are the stewards. You are the owners."

The society also is looking into obtaining Ledge Light, offshore in the mouth of the Thames River, which is being leased to the Ledge Light Foundation and is open for tours in the summer.

He said the society would like to obtain the lighthouse from the government and let the Ledge Lighthouse Foundation continue to care for it.

"We are committed to keeping all lighthouses in public hands," he said.

The maritime society is holding a series of fundraising events throughout the summer, including selling a $10 lighthouse pin that will bring discounts at participating shops in the city, and a Chowda' and Lighthouse Cake Gala July 25 at Ocean Beach Park. The group is also selling prints of New London Harbor Light and souvenir bricks from the lighthouse wall and is holding a whale tooth lottery.

"As stewards of the lighthouse, it's time to call to the public to come in and chip in," Tamulevich said.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

If you go

What : Tour of New London Harbor Light
Where: Pequot Avenue, New London
When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: Free, but New London Maritime Society is asking for donations. Reservations must be made before Sunday at (860) 447-2501
More Info: www.nlmaritimesociety.com

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