5.18.10 Our projects continue: the new Amistad exhibition is now 60% there. Forty-eight hours and counting to the Opening event!
On the other hand, another ongoing project: New London's PARADE, is looking wonderful. This week, the bronze panels arrived in their packing crates. The series of vessels in the photo near left shows the evolution of ships from sailing vessels to steam ships to submarines.
The Parade will be rededicated on Saturday, June 5 at a special city-wide celebration called Parade Parade. The evenit will start in the afternoon with several history-related enactments on the plaza. Later on there will be bands, dancing & fireworks. The evening should end with a Cabaret at the Custom House with Gary Baillargeon--but you have to buy a ticket for that.
A reliable font of good things is our friend Clark van der Lyke. New London's former City Clerk, Clark finds all kinds of treasures, which he generously shares with the Custom House. This is nothing new: Clark, left, is shown standing before portraits of New London;s mayors, which he gave to NLMS museum founder Lucile Showalter decades ago! This week, he brought us documents from when the properties, upon which the Navy base was built, were appraised & sold.
5.14.10 One true thing you can say about the Custom House is that you never know Who will bring What through the door on any given day.
This week ended with an unexpected gift from a resident of Lyme, Morgan Ely: a framed image of the flags of all the whaling companies of New London. We'd had a poor black & white copy of this painting on view in our Jibboom exhibition. This new gift is certainly an upgrade and much appreciated. (The original painting hung in the Mariners' Bank in New London.)
NLMS president George Sprecace has taken on the lighthouse grounds (shown far left) this past week planting & watering hundreds of periwinkle plants.
5.13.10 NLMS trustee Kathleen Gaynor is still at it with the plexiglass cases... She is doing her best to make the new Amistad exhibition ready for visitors when it opens on May 20--a part of our Amistad Welcome events. Thank you, Kathy!
As you can see, center left, the show is finally coming together. This is in no small part to the efforts of Brad Doyle, of Marvel Home, near left, who spent a good day installing our elegant wrought-iron curtain rails, from which the exhibition scrims are shown, hung, in the center image.
5.12.10 Main Street New London's wonderful Spring Food Stroll brought nealy 100 visitors to the Custom House Wendesday, and we didn't even serve something to taste!
Among those 100 were the Ancient Mariners, who paused in their roving about the streets of our fair city to seranade visitors inside the museum.
The Mariners will be back on Saturday for the 2nd Annual Chowda' Fest & SIlent Auction, which takes place beneath our tent right after New London's Hope Week parade! Buy your tickets now: 860-447-2501!
5.8.10 Seth Bakstis and Gina Arnold, two students in our friend Nat Trumbull's mapping class at UCONN
The Custom House is the first 3-D building in all of New London. Click HERE to experience it! Or you can get to it, yourself: 1.) Go to Google Maps, 2. ) Search: 150 Bank Street, New London, CT, 06320, 3.) click on 'Earth' at left, & 4.) zoom in! (NB: You must download the free Google Earth 3-D viewer, for this to work.)
5.6.10 The junipers, planted by the Thames River Garden Club, appear to be settling in!
La Amistad's arrival in 1839 is not the only important Black History event to have taken place in New London. Elysa Engelman's UCONN class on Public History (near left) has been working all semester to nominate the Custom House as a site on the National Park Service FREEDOM TRAIL.
Their nomination is based on two episodes that took place here: the story of Stowaway Joe, and the Amistad incident. Over the past months, the class has met at the museum several times to speak with Bill LaRoue and work with Brian Rogers in the Frank McGuire Mariitime Research Library. They presented their National Park Service application to several NLMS trustees last Thursday night. We should hear the results from the NPS by summer's end.
5.4.10 Our Amistad exhibition is taking shape oh so slowly... Pitching in is trustee Kathy Gaynor, who is shown, left, reassembling the large exhibition cases. Kathy has been at it several days now & hopes to finish this phase tomorrow.
The season's first First Tuesday program brought painting conservators Lance Mayer and Gay Meyers to the Custom House for a compelling look at painting conservation. Their book--two volumes on American painters' techniques-- is soon to be published by the Getty Museum.
5.3.10 On Monday night, the Sea Scouts held a meeting in the Frank McGuire Library at the Custom House. Earlier that evening, Amanda Ballassi and Nick Woviotis were presented with a trophy for winning the regional sailing trials, which were held in New Jersey two weeks ago.
The 2010 International Sea Scout Cup will be held this August in New London. Racing for the Cup will be our new regional champs. Here they are, at left, with their Sea Scout friends and a most-handsome trophy. From left: Micah Curr, William Wheaton, Jr., Amanda Ballassi, Dan Shaw, Nick Woviotis, Lindsay Fortier.
5.3.10 THREE CHEERS for PATRICK KENNEDY, of New London's Kennedy Marine, who, with the aid of the Sea Scouts & other area friends, is loading up his booms & anchors. His son is driving them to Alabama tonight--towing the boat--to assist with the remediation effort in the Gulf! "In this situation," Patrick says, "I felt I had to do everything I could." An experienced mariner, Parick, himself, leaves Saturday. He expects they may be gone for up-to three months. Patrick, whose assistance was requested, is working through Command Central in Norfolk, VA.
5.3.10 Click right to read our >> SPRING 2010 newsletter.
4.30.10 Here, left, is the result of a good week''s work: the tent is up and the courtyard shrubbery neat, with May & summer & sun just around the corner...
4.29.10 It happens every spring, but it's always a challenge: the tent!
Trustees John Desjardins and George Sprecace took charge, organizing the poles and gathering the tent framing together. Then they called in the reenforcements (comprised of the usual suspects): Hillhouses Jen & Mike, Rob Groves, Bill LaRoue, Tom Hahn, Rob Pittaway. When the time came to raise the canvas, in came the heavy artilliary: the Bank-Street branch of the New London Fire Department.
And so the day--and tent--were saved!
4.27.10 The shrubs in the Custom House courtyard have been trimmed from time to time, but today they got their first true pruning in years as trustee Ethel Gerity and the Thames River Garden Club came to our rescue. Despite rain and chilly temperatures, the courtyard plants got pruned, the weedy, neglected strip of ground along the fence on the alley-side was planted with low-growing junipers, and the entire property got a general sound cleaning-up!
Planting even extended out to the lighthouse grounds, where several, large hollies were planted.
After a full morning's activity in the Custom House courtyard, the Thames River Garden Club, wet, cold & peckish, came inside the museum for coffee & treats. Shown, standing back from left: Brenda Kramer, Joseph Rizzo, Joan Danielson, front row from left: Carol Hanby, Ethel Gerity, Lorraine Rizzo, Josie Esposito, not present at the table but who also worked in the courtyard: Neil Ruenzel, Everett Munro, Phyllis Teeson, Dottie Nauer, Ginny Mackey, Harold Mackey. THANK YOU, ALL!
4.24.10 The idea of looking outside the museum walls to try and make the museum more welcoming to the neighborhood is a direct result of a new study now being conducted by the City of New London's City Planner Harry Smith in which we have been taking part for the past two months.
With a grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Harry is bringing together representatives of all 'stake-holders' in the neighborhood to the south of State Street--including the Custom House--in an effort to improve the the feel of the downtown and, we hope, make it more inviting. The first community-wide meeting for the study will take place on the evening of Wednesday, May 5 at the Public Library of New London.
After two years of working on the inside of the Custom House, attending the first two sessions of this study were a revelation. Sudddenly the strip of ground outside the fence on the alley facing the Salvation Army looked weedy and neglected--and it is! Sounds like a mission for the Thames River Graden Club!
4.24.10 Time flies! And Saturday it was again time for the Connecticut Marine Model Society to host the 28th Annual Northeast Shipmodel Conference at Port 'n Starboard on Ocean Beach. The exhibition brings marine modelmakers and maritime goods dealers from Philadelphia to Maine.
Several out-of-print book & print dealers exhibited very
undealer-like behavior by making outright donations to the Custom House Maritime Museum! We'd like to especially thank Leo Hallen, Connecticut RIver Books, & Roderick Arpin for their generosity to the museum. CT River Books had the wonderful 1877 print with views of New London, including the scene at left showing the back and original roof line of the US Custom House before the railroad and Water Street were built.
4.24.10 It's the last wekend for The Awseome Oyster exhibition--which has proven a hugh success & is still bringing in visitors in its final days! Friday brought us Lisa Martin's 5th grade class from Jessup School. Thursday saw museum consultant Elizabeth Fox with a team from the Rowayton Historical Society--a museum currently contemplating putting together its own Oyster exhibition.
Jennings School fifth grade students, far left, also learned to tie knots and at left present their figure eights and square knots. After learning about oyster predators at The Awesome Oyster exhibit, students were asked to come up with their own sci-fi oyster predator!
And we also finally opened opened a mysterious envelope that had been sitting on the director's desk for some time (if you saw the desk, you'd understand...)--a packet from a good friend of the museum, former City Clerk Clark van der Lyke.
Clark is always coming in with the right thing at the right moment. Last winter it was a late 19th-c mug celebrating New London's Parade--an object that spurred our exhibit on the history of the Parade that spring. Just in time for our Chowda' Fest last May he spurred on the famous canon controversy, by bringing us a naval howitzer which shown briefly in the museum courtyard--and on the TV news--before returning to its home at the top of the Manwaring Hill.
Clark's packet contained several wonderful city of NL documents, including the one, at left, showing an 1876 purchase of '4,500 bush(els?) of (oyster) shells'. It's now in the Oyster exhibition where it will be on view through Sunday!
4.22.10 NLMS trustee Ethel Gerity (in stripes) is shown, near left, with Nancy Clark at Nancy's nursery Pebble Beech (as in beech tree!). Nancy & Pebble Beech are providing the shrubs and Ethel & the Thames River Garden Club will be providing the muscle to prune and polish the Custom House courtyard. We all met at Pebble Beech Thursday to select the plants.
4.21.10 NLMS board president George Sprecace is shown, far left, with two of our Sea Scout friends at the Maritime College and Career Fair, organized by Marshall Parsons and held at Branford House, UCONN at Avery Point. A great event, it was an opportunity for maritime colleges and educational programs to present their programs to area youth.
4.15.10 Special events related to the USS Squalus exhibition continued Thursday night with a Third Thursday Jibboom Round Table discussion, moderated by NLMS trustee Jim Reyburn. As usual, NLMS trustee Vinnie Belbruno orchestrated the fabulous pre-talk treats!
Jim, who wrote the exhibition text, is shown at left with the night's other participants. Beginning at far left, they are: Brendan McGuirk, James Reyburn, Peter McGuirk, Ed Uditus, and two submariner audience members: torpedoman 1c John Hawke, and Gordon Napier.
This event was successful in that it fufilled our "Jibboom ideal"--in that it brought together a group of local mariners--submariners, in this instance--who spent the evening sharing their specialized maritime knowledge and stories. We all learned from it!
4.12.10 It was a particularly sparkling day on Monday, so, after the large-&-energetic New London Youth Affairs class left the Custom House, we left, too, to visit New London Harbor Light for a needed moment of quiet reflection.
Work on the light house property halted over winter, but, now that things have warmed up, the first steps to clean-up the landscape have been taken. We are pleased to announce that the Thames River Garden Club has agreed to help us with this project.
4.12.10 It was an unusually intense, fun-filled Monday due to a visit from Blythe Henry and a full vacation-week class of children from New London Youth Affairs.
NLMS trustee Carolyn Lewes, ably assisted byJibboom Commodore Archie Chester, saved the day by arriving with three different projects for the students. Carolyn presided over four hours of maritime activities, teaching the group how to play cribbage, tie nautial knots, and create paper sailboats.
Which activity was the favorite? --we'd have to say: tying knots.
4.10.10 Saturday was a memorable evening at the Custom House. Friends of the Custom House Maritime Museum, in general, & the Frank L. McGuire Maritime Research Library, in particular, gathered to rededicate the library on the 20th anniversary of Frank McGuire's death.
Frank McGuire was a founding member of the New London Maritime Society. He was instrumental in establishing the museum and, in fact, wrote the Society's bylaws.
The Frank L. McGuire Maritime Research Library, now reorganized and operating under the careful eye of Brian Rogers, is the true jewel of the museum. In the past year, alone, it has increased by nearly 1,000 volumes -- all carefully scrutinized and selected by our #1 library volunteer.
The memorial evening was organized by Frank's sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Anthony Enders.
4.9.10 NLMS showed its support for the National Trust and its efforts to help people protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them! click>> HERE to see who else the Trust helps.
Preserve America Grants (which is slated to be eliminated): Created in 2003 as a White House initiative to support local preservation efforts, Preserve America has designated a total of 814 communities--New London, CT, among them--spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories.
The program complements Save America’s Treasures’ efforts and has awarded more than $20 million to over 250 grant projects supporting planning, development, implementation, or enhancement of innovative activities and programs in heritage tourism.
You might recollect that this winter, NLMS joined with Cara Pianka of the CIty of New London Office of Planning & Development, and several other New London non-profits to develop a Perserve America grant application!
4.2.10 We are extremely fortunate to have received
a generous, near-$10,000 grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council this week.
THANK YOU, Connecticut Humanities Council!
The grant is targeted at preserving an award-winning Amistad exhibition and reinstalling it at the Custom House Maritime Museum. The grant also will cover our speaker at the exhibition opening/Amistad reception on May 20.
We are very pleased to announce that renowned British historian James Walvin, of the University of York, will be our guest speaker at the event on May 20. His talk will be 'Why we should remember - and honor - the Amistad'.
3.31.10 Thanks to a hard-working crew of heavy-lifters at Rogovin Moving, all five galleries of the Amistad exhibition from the Connecticut Historical Society were moved, without one scratch, into our Showalter Gallery, where the exhibit will be reassembled over the next one-and-one-half months - to open May 20, 2010. The exhibit, in pieces, can be seen at the upper left. At left, the same pieces are being disassembled a day earlier in Hartford!
3.29.10 & 3.30.10 were all spent traveling in the driving rain to-&-from Hartford and the Connecticut Historical Society. At the CHS, an intrepid group of NLMS volunteers met to disassemble & pack up the Amistad: A True Story of Freedom exhibition, which originated at the CHS, where it has been on view for a dozen years.
NLMS volunteers included trustee Jennifer Hillhouse and her two sons Matt and Mike (shown from far left), Ivan Metzger, Deidra Belcher, and trustee Kathy Gaynor (with her trusty mallet). Not in the photo are the director, & trustee John Desjardins.
3.28.10 The 22nd annual New London Maritime Society FOUNDERS DAY celebrated 100 years of the U.S. Coast Guard in New London, with guest-of-honor Admiral Burhoe, Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a special performance by a cadets' jazz ensemble--a renegade group from the NiteCaps.
A great time was had by all!
Volunteer George Spragg worked the previous Friday to repaint the area just outside the Showalter Gallery. NLMS trustee Vincentia Belbruno made tea sandwiches, cookies and coordinated all the refreshments. New member Caroline Joss created the wonderful lemon cakes.
It's worth noting that Founders Day will be the last event to be held in this gallery before we make a big change. After 10 years, the current Amistad exhibition, on loan from Mystic Seaport, will be replaced by a new-to-us exhibit, Amistad: A True Story of Freedom, from the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. A portion of the new exhibition is currently on view in the lobby of the United Nations in New York City.
President George Sprecace, the event's master of ceremonies, introduced our guest speaker. For Founders Day, George sported a new addition to our museum collection on his jacket, an original Jibboom Club pin. The donor of the pin, Mary Beth Montesi, & her father Larry were present at the event & seated in the front row.
Celebrating the Jibboom pin was entirely appropriate at this event. The first Custom House Maritime Museum director Lucille Showalter felt that her New London history club was a kind of latter-day Jibboom Club, and often said so. But when the possibility of a museum popped up (i.e. the custom house) and Lucille wanted to request funding from the city, she thought no one would give money to a group called the Jibboom Club, and so theNew London Maritime Society was founded!
Admiral Burhoe and NLMS founder Lloyd Beachy used the famous Heidenreich sword to cut the cake!
3.25.10 Meanwhile, back in Havana on Thursday, the Amistad sailed in, visiting Cuba for the first time in the ship's 10-year-life. In another couple of weeks, the Amistad will recreate La Amistad's historic 1839 voyage from Cuba to the United States, ending up in New London at the Custom House on May 20. Watch this Web site for details of our Welcome Amisatd celebration.
The detail of the Amistad's flags, at left, show they were flying the UN, Cuban, US, & State of Connecticut flags when they entered Havana harbor.
3.24.10 The scrims, at left, show part of the Amistad exhibition we delivered to the United Nations last week. Tomorrow, March 26, they will serve as backdrop for the United Nations press conference, covered by CNN, to commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. At some point, the cameras will cut away to show the Amistad, and our friends from Amistad America, Inc., as they sail into Havana harbor.
We were amused to see that the Broadway Week.com story about NLMS bringing the Amistad exhibition to the UN was illustrated with the photo of trustee John Desjardins (far left) from the Web site. Once Broadway sees Captain Desjardins, a film career can't be far behind! We all had a great day in New York for the exhibition opening at the United Nations. Director Susan Tamulevich is shown, above left, delivering her talk with UN Under Secretary Akasaka at right. At the immediate left is the New London contengent (minus John): Bill LaRoue, Jennifer Hillhouse, Barbara Tamulevich, & Harry Smith.
3.18.10 Submarine escape expert Chief Raymond Parker joined Brian McCarthy to give March's Third Thursday presentation. Brian, Chief Parker & family are shown far left. A highlight of the evening was Chief Parker's demonstration of current submarine escape gear: two protective suits - one for heat retention, one to keep out the water--and a self-inflating small boat, the entire set unfolding from a single tightly-packed pillow approximately 18" x 12" x 4". The sequence is shown at the left.
The presentation followed the opening for our Squalus exhibition.
3.17.10 A long day that started early, John Desjardins & Susan Tamulevich left New Haven at 6 AM to drive the Amistad exhibition to the United Nations. Arriving at the UN at 8:30, the truck was checked for explosives by the UN canine crew--a black labradore and security expert. Unloading was finished by 10 AM.
After the obligatory trip to the UN gift shop & touristy photographs, we returned the truck, While heading from 1st & 45th to 9th and 37th, we were alarmed to see pipers walking up the street. What was in the way? --Fifth Avenue and the Saint Patrick's Day Parade!
3.16.10 New London Maritime Society - Custom House Maritime Museum brings the Amistad story to the United Nations with an exhibition entitled Amistad: A True Story of Freedom. On view March 22 through April 25, the exhibit will be part of the United Nation's 2010 Slave Trade Remembrance activities.
Following it's month at the United Nations, Amistad: A True Story of Freedom travels to the Custom House, where it will be permanently installed in the museum's Lucille Showalter Gallery. Amistad-related events, in partnership with Amistad America. Inc., Kente Cultural Center, Provenance Gallery, and the City of New London, are planned for May 20 through 22. The opening, featuring slavery scholar James Walvin, takes place May 20.
The first leg of this journey took place on Tuesday, when Ben and Mike, the exhibitions crew, and Andrea V. Rapacz, Head of Interpretive Projects at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, along with the life-sized sihlouette figure of Cinque, bid adieu to a part of the exhibition.
3.13.10 The New London Maritime Society is very pleased to accept the gift of a submarine model of the U.S.S. Connecticut, made by Dick Alexander, & presented to us on the occasion of a visit by the Connecticut Marine Model Society to the Custom House. Dick, a former Navy Commander, is shown far left with Tom Kane, president of the CMMS. He is shown again, near right, presenting us with the model. Thank you, Commander Alexander!
The actual Connecticut sub was built just a couple of years ago across the river in Groton. The gift of this model is perfectly timed for next Thursday's presentation on the history of submarine escapes--and is a great counterpoint to earlier submarine examples in the U.S.S. Squalus exhibition, which also opens on Thursday.
3.13.10 What a day! Although Saturday's All Things Oyster excursion to Trumbull & Black Rock was postponed until April 3, Saturday rocked. Volunteer programmer, Bob Kammer, a friend of NLMS trustee Carolyn Leuze, showed up early in the morning to transform our members/donors database into FileMaker Pro--which, we hope, will add a little 'Pro' to our operation... (Bob is shown at his laptop at the near left.)
Longtime volunteers, greeter Ruth Nagle and head docent Bill LaRoue, were hard at work Saturday to break in our splendid new front desk--a donation from Alva Greenberg, who recently closed the wonderful ALVA Gallery on State Street. Thank you, Alva! We'd also like to thank John Russell and the crew at Homeward Bound Treasures for moving this grand piece to our lobby.
And speaking of thanks, in the upper near left is Dick Dewick, who visited later on Saturday with the Connecticut Marine Modelmakers Society (the group is shown assembled in the large photo above left). Years before, while working at Mitchell College, Dick built an oak podium for the museum. The podium is now ithe focalpoint in our Amistad Gallery--an elegant & essential part of our set-up for each lecture, presentation & NLMS board meeting!
3.12.10 Of late, we've had some visitors to the museum who are passionate about certain exhibitions. Just today we were visited by The Shell Club of Mystic (below left), a Navy diver, HM1 Micha Avignone (left), who saw the dive helmet in our front window & stopped in to show us his tat, and volunteer Emily Galvin. Emily,shown near left with her father and NLMS treasurer John Desjardins, was just elected to the Honor Society.
It was The Shell Club of Mystic, which, in 1989, petitioned the state & succeeded (Bill no. 263) in making the Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica, Connecticut's official state shell. Why a state shell? The Club wrote (back in 1989) "A national effort is being made to secure endorsement of a shell to represent the state in which it lives." The Purpose? "A symbolic gesture by the State of Connecticut to represent what this natural resource had given to us both historically and economically." The Club contributed their oyster board, seen at the back center of the photo at left, to our Awesome Oyster exhibition. Shown here are three members of the club, who shared their photo scrapbook made of the Custom House's exhibit: The Awesome Oyster. From left: Barbara Bauduccio, Martha Bauduccio, Trudy Alduk.
3.6.10 Cartooning classes with Jon Buller are back! They began today with a one-session introductory workshop.
There's still time to sign up for what's next-- a series of four cartooning classes, which begin Thursday, March 18.
3.5.10 Our hard-working crew--(from left) Kendrick McCarthy, Tobey Leske, & Brian McCarthy--is about finished assembling the Squalus memorial exhibition--an all-volunteer effort.
The official exhibition opening will be a part of March 18's Third Thursday event: a Jibboom roundtable on the Squalus story, last survivor Carl Bryson of New London, and submarine life. The exhibit will close on the last day of the Squalus' 75th anniversary year--the date of the ship's disaster, May 24.
3.4.10 A delegation from the New London Maritime Society walked down Bank Street to the train station Thursday night to receive the annual New London Landmarks RESCUE Award, as part of the group's annual meeting. NLMS won the award for taking on stewardship of that icon of the City: New London Harbor Light -- an effort spearheaded and guided over the past nine years by NLMS trustee and past president Ben Martin. Accepting the award--a check towards our Lighthouse Fund, current NLMS president George Sprecace reminded those assembled of another great rescue which he and others, including Claire Dale and Frank McGuire, took on & WON: the rescue of New London's Union Railroad Station. Having had a tour of the handsome H.H. Richardson-designed station just moments before, we can only say: thank you, George & Union Railway Preservation Trust~! Shown far left is the NLMS delegation: trustee & treasurer John Desjardins, director Susan Tamulevich, trustee & past president Ben Martin, trustee & president George Sprecace. In photo at near left, George Sprecace receives the RESCUE award from New London Landmarks president Susan Munger. photos courtesy Laura Cordes.
2.28.10 Friday night, the Custom House was scene to a rollicking private event: a 50th-birthday surprise party for Jean Tuneski. Jean's husband, Bob, transformed the museum complete with an 8-piece band in the 2nd-floor Showalter gallery, raw bar from Grossman's of Mystic on the museum's first floor, and baby-blue shirted 'Party Staff' helping out in the kitchen on the lower level. Dancing went on until midnight, when a small group of insiders moved downstairs to sip cognac & relax in the Archie Chester Reading Room.
2.26.10 These days we're not just partnering with New London groups, but with the larger world -- & in the grandest sense; Later this month, we hope to bring an exhibition about the Amistad and New London to the United Nations! Through the intervention of our friends at Amistad America, Inc., who are just about to embark on an historic sail to Havana, Cuba, we are discussing placing an exhibition about slavery & rebellion in the lobby of the U.N. Our exhibition will combine the work of a Haitian artist and a West Indies cultural component with portions of the Custom House's new Amistad exhibition.
SAVE THE DATE: May 20 is the day our new Amistad exhibition opens at the Custom House Maritime Museum, the freedom schooner Amistad sails into New London and, working with Kente Cultural Center and Provenance Gallery-- New London launches three days of Slavery, Rebellion & Freedom events.
2.25.10 The Custom House Maritime Museum currently is participating in several City-wide efforts, among these a Preserve America grant application filed in mid February by Cara Pianka, Community Development/Lead Coordinator of the New London Planning Department, and planning committee meetings to plot the inauguration of the Parade activities on June 4-5 (lead by City Manager Martin Berliner). In March, we will be on the steering committee for a historic downtown neighborhood study, lead by City Planner Harry Smith, who was awarded the study grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
An NPR broadcast of the program Where We Live, organized by Rich Martin, was held Thursday morning at the Hygienic Gallery. There was a terrific turn-out representing most aspects of downtown for-profit and non-profit groups. The biggest concerns expressed?: how do we keep the city affordable for artists, get Shore Line East to run into New London in the mornings, and what's the best strategy to boost downtown activity???
2.24.10 UCONN's Public History class has adopted the Custom House Maritime Museum for the semester. They have held two classes so far at the museum. (Students are shown left working on their topics in the Frank McGuire Maritime Research Library.) The class project is to get the Custom House listed as a National Park Service Network to Freedom site.
2.20.10 Submarine-object collector and sub historian Ed Uditis and his friend Dalia stopped by today with more items for the Squalis / Carl Bryson memorial exhibition. At left Ed holds a vintage Morse Code plaque from a submarine. The plaque illustrates the alphabet in code. In case of an emergency, the submariners could tap a message in Morse Code on the inside of the hull to communicate with rescue divers outside the sub. Dalia holds a poster illustrating use of a Momsen Lung.
If anyone has material to contribute to our Squalus / Carl Bryson memorial exhibition, please call Susan at 860-447-2501. The exhibit is expected to open at the end of February and run through May 23.
2.18.10 We have something of a diving theme at the Custom House this month with both the Squalus exhibition going up and our Third Thursday presentation tonight, which featured shipwreck sleuth Mark Munro.
Mark's talk brought in a record crowd of near 100 to hear about his investigation of three wrecks in Fisher's Island Sound. Mark is ingenius in building his own dive gear, including a breathing device that recycles his air! Our own board president, George Sprecace, shown near left with Mark, turns out to be a diver, too, although he prefers the warmer climes.
2.17.10 We continue to gather objects for the Squalus/Carl Bruson Memorial exhibition. This week, Jay Kane of Shoreline Diving, brought in an evocative vintage deep-sea diving suit--all 300 pounds of it! Although this example dates from the 1940s or '50s, it is the same Mark V-model suit used by the divers who rescued the Squalus crew. In fact, this model was in use by the Navy from the early 20th century up until 1980.
A coincidence is that, back in 1988, Jay taught Mark Munro to dive!
At near-left are Brian McCarthy and Tobey Leske holding up an 1918 flag from Brian's collection. It is a flag used to signal that a submarine rescue is in progress--keep away!
2.12.10 Longtime NLMS trustee Lonnie Braxton stopped by the Custom House Friday to discuss plans for our new Amistad exhibition, set to open in mid May.
A gift from the Connecticut Historical Society, the exhibition opening will coincide with AmistadAmerica sailing into New London direct from Cuba! We are looking for volunteers to help with our Amistad-related activities. If you'd like to volunteer, please call Susan at 860-447-2501. Meanwhile, watch this Web site for information about upcoming Amistad events.
Friday nights in February at 7 PM, Lonnie Braxton is introducing offerings at the African American Film Festival at the Public Library of New London, an event which is sponsored, in part, by your New London Maritime Society.
2.12.10 The display of two boats in our lobby (photo near left) built by David McCulloch repeatedly raises the question: what differentiates a kayak from a canoe? David explains the two boat types here. (Hint: the kayak is to the left...)
2.12.10 It was Brian McCarthy, who urged we mount an exhibition both documenting the rescue of the submarine Squalus & commemorating its last survivor, Carl Bryson of New London. Brian has contributed a number of items to the show and also has brought in a number of other collectors with Squalus material. He is shown far left with volunteer Tobey Leske, who has taken on the organization of this important exhibition.
The main source of Squalus material is from Allyn Donath, the daughter of Carl Bryson; Carl died just one year ago. The Squalus rescue occurred 75 years ago last May. Our Squalus exhibition opens at the end of February and will run through the end of the 75th anniversary year.
2.12.10 Andy Strode, a new volunteer, and George Spragg have taken on the task of removing chipped paint from the Ingoldsby Work Crawford Gallery walls on the museum's first floor. It is tedious going, as the work requires much preemptive care to keep nearby exhibitions clean and dust-free. The two work stealthily, starting early in the morning and finally sweeping up the last paint chip prior to 1 PM when the Custom House opens for visitors.
2.9.10 NLMS trustee & tugboat captain Rob Groves just emailed us two photos of New London Harbor Light in the grey of early February. It reminds us to write that, 250 years ago this year, the decision was made to establish a lighthouse at New London. It was the first lighthouse on the Sound and fourth in all of North America!
Next year, 2011, will mark the 250th birthday of the light,itself. You can see Rob's photo near left. Far left is an image of the United States Geological Survey marker on the rocks at the base of the light.
1.30.10 Fisher's Island third & fourth graders sent us this photo of the Oyster posters they made upon their return from a visit to the Custom House.
1. 29.10 John Niekrash (far left), founder of the Groton-based charity Work Vessels for Vets, visited the Custom House for the first time Friday to discuss possible future collaborations.
John, a lobsterman, started the Wrok-Vessels effort two years ago when he bought a new lobster boat and donated his old one to help a veteran start his own business.
Work Vessels for Vets is an all-volunteer movement assisting returning veterans begin their civilian careers or educational pursuits by acquiring and distributing the necessary start-up tools. If you have products, both new and used, such as boats, computers, vehicles, machinery and tools to name a few, that could assist a veteran build a company, start a new job, learn a new trade. Please contact John who will endeavor to match that donation to the veteran.
Ruth Reluga visited the library last week (shown far left), as did new library volunteers Laurie and John Deredita, who donated a laptop computer to the library. Now, our library collection, online at iconn.org, is finally searchable in our own library!!! Laurie, John & the machine are shown near left with Brian Rogers.
Gordon Napier, shown at left with the director and near left with Ivan Metzger, Archie Chester and Rob Pittaway, brought by two boxes of additions to his already splendid donation of books on submarines, Electric Boat, and small-boat construction. These fine volumes fill several important gaps in our library's maritime research collection.
1.28.10 The New London Maritime Society Finance Committee worked out the nitty-gritty details of the 2010 budget. Members present were Archie Chester, Ben Martin, Bill LaRoue, George Sprecace, hard-working NLMS treasurer John Desjardins, and Susan Tamulevich (taking the photo).
1.23.10 About a dozen intrepid birders followed Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, out to Fort Trumbull, Pfizer, Waterford Park & Ocean Beach on Saturday to seek out winter water birds. It was the continuation of a winter birding celebration at the Custom House, featuring Maggie's Third Thursday talk on Winter Birds along the Shoreline, two small hand-built boats by David McCulloch, and an exhibit of avian photographs by Hank Golet.
Our efforts paid off immediately with the siting of two mergansers, several coots and a few loons (amidst swans, gulls and mallard ducks) off Fort Trumbull. A peregrine falcon staked a claim atop the Pfizer headquarters, a harbor seal was seen basking on an rocky outcrop off Waterford beach, and several solitary brandts were spied in the water just off Pequot Avenue as we drove back to town. Brandts, says Maggie, can dive depths of 200 feet and digest whole clams (shell included)!
1.22.10 What fun to get students in to the museum specifically to see The Awesome Oyster exhibition!
On Friday, two classes from Fisher's Island School took the ferry to New London and visited the Custom House. After a brief introduction to US Customs, whaling, & lighthouses, the students tackled oysters in depth. Next spring, the students--several the children of fishermen-- will visit a real oyster nursery & farm on Fisher's Island!
1.21.10 Third Thursday's talk on Winter Waterfowl brought some surprising birders out from the usual Custom House crew! Our guide was Maggie Jones, executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, who presented an amazing array of feathered visitors to our shore along with some astounding facts as to their habits, diet, and patterns of migration.
That evening was also the opening for Hank Golet's photography exhibit. Hank, an avid birder, lives in Old Lyme very near to the famous sparrow roost! His bird pictures were taken using a scope and, for the most part, show birds in Connecticut.
1.16.010 Saturday, January 16, saw two special events at the Custom House: our first wedding and a reception by area shellfish farmers.
A hip New London crowd showed up just after noon for a happy celebration of the marriage of David and Leslie. The event featured old time roots & folk music performed by Elizabeth Larson and Craig Edwards; delicious hors d'oeuvres and chocolate cupcakes prepared by NL's own East Coast Catering; and a surprise, special treat: a photo booth, which allowed guests to create images for a wedding book--both the guests & wedding couple received copies of the picture strips!
Later that evening the Custom House was pleased to host a reception on behalf of several of our local shellfish farmers. Members of the federal and local governments, FDA, local shellfish commissions, and the press were invited to a sumptuous oyster feast while hearing about changes in the laws related to the oyster-farming industry. The good news is that the system works... and what last fall had been anticipated as a problem has now been resolved through the cooperation of the Shellfish Commission and area farmers!
A truly Awesome Oyster evening, oyster dishes of every variety were prepared by Steve Plant and Karen Rivara, Kate Blacker manned a raw bar, and Custom House volunteers Ivan and Izzy Metzger stepped in to help with the serving of the food.
We'd like to thank Cottrell's Brewing Company, Chamard Vineyards and Stonington Vineyards for their support of this important event!
1.01.10 Best Wishes for 2010 from the Custom House.
12.22.09 Custom House Volunteers celebrated the season with an impromptu festive lunch on Tuesday--the last day the museum opened before the holidays.
The party inaugurated the newly-named Archibald J. Chester Reading Room (formally dedicated at our Winter Celebration December 17), and you can see Archie, himself, at the far end of the table. Volunteers attending are (seated from Left) Vinnie Belbruno, Mary Desjardins, Kathy Gaynor, John Desjardins, Archibald J. Chester, Robert Pittaway, Jennifer Hillhouse & William LaRoue; standing are George Spragg, Pauline Demarco, Susan Tamulevich; photo by Russ DeMarco. Additional photos of the group are on the volunteer page of this Web site.