Stonington’s Old Lighthouse Museum project begins final fundraising push
Stonington ― The Stonington Historical Society has begun the public phase of its capital campaign to raise $600,000 for the final phase of its $2.75 million renovation and expansion of the Old Lighthouse Museum.
As part of the campaign, the historical society held an open house in October which saw more than 100 people visit.
Executive Director Elizabeth Wood said, “we’ll be having community events like the open house, and we’ll do it several times to educate people about the project, and we’re also going to be pursuing some state and federal grants as well.”
To date, fundraising efforts have raised a little more than $2 million, but an additional $600,000 is required to break ground on the second phase of the project. This will consist of slight regrading of the lawn to make it more easily navigable and construction of a 500-square-foot addition to the rear of the museum to house a handicapped-accessible bathroom, ticketing area and gift shop. This will make the entire first floor of the museum universally accessible.
Wood said the project will help preserve the vintage structure by moving the areas most used by visitors into the new addition.
“Some people have been surprised at the cost of it, but it is a museum, and it has museum quality climate control—it’s where we house some really one-of-a-kind artifacts and objects,” she said, adding “really, it’s a museum for the 21st century.”
Phase 1 of the project, which began in 2019, involved work inside the museum, such as installing an HVAC system to create a climate-controlled environment to better preserve artifacts, repairing structural damage caused by insects and water, refinishing floors, installing new electrical wiring and repainting exterior masonry work.
Wood said, “any project that deals with historic structures is like a can of worms that you don’t know what you’re going to see when you get inside, but that part is done so the addition and the regrading should be fairly cut and dry.”
Current features at The Lighthouse Museum include the updated Battle of Stonington exhibit and “My Freedom is a Privilege that Nothing Else Can Equal,” which explores the life of Venture Smith, an enslaved Black man who lived in Stonington and later bought freedom for himself and his family.
“Steaming Through Stonington”, an exhibit exploring the way steam transportation transformed Stonington and its harbor, leading to the construction of a new lighthouse which gave rise to the name “the old lighthouse,” is projected to open by Thanksgiving.
The Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11 for Veterans Day. Admission is free for residents of Stonington, Mystic and Pawcatuck.