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First phase of Old Lighthouse Museum complete

Stonington — The first phase of the Old Lighthouse Museum renovation and expansion project, which involved the replacement of many of the museum's mechanical systems and other work, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this week.

Joshua Adams, the director of development & communications for the Stonington Historical Society, which runs the museum, said fencing now will come down and landscaping will be repaired.

The $1.3 million of renovation work involved the installation of climate control, HVAC and lighting systems, as well as masonry repairs to the tower. Adams said that from the street people will not notice any changes, as the work is in the interior.

He said no decisions have been made about reopening the museum yet to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The historical society also is planning two new exhibits, one on the work of famed local photographer Rollie McKenna, who died in 2003. Her work ranged from portraits of literary giants such as Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost, to snapshots of everyday life in the borough and its residents.

The other exhibit features Venture Smith, who lived from 1729 to 1805 and worked his way out of slavery on farms in Stonington, becoming a successful entrepreneur in Colonial southeastern Connecticut.

As for phase II of the restoration project, which calls for a 500-square-foot addition to the rear of the museum to house a handicapped-accessible bathroom and ticketing area, that work will be delayed until the fall of 2021, as Adams said fundraising for that $1.45 million work has been hampered by the pandemic.

He said the fundraising committee has remained in touch with potential donors but has not been able to meet with them in person. That work now will restart.

j.wojtas@theday.com 

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