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6.10.12 For the second day in a row, the Lighthouse Kids Sea Shanty Chorus gave a special performance. 
Yesterday, it was at Fort Trumbull, in the Fort (see left),for Connecticut Open House Day--a day each year when cultural institutions throughout the state (including the Custom House Maritime Museum) were open without charge. 

Today they performed at nearby Mystic Seaport for the annual Sea Music Festival. 

We want to thank Jody Barthel, the ace New London public school teacher who organizes and runs the year-long  Lighthouse Kids enrichment program as a part of her terrific SEMI classes in the 4th and 5th grades. 

We also want to thank Geoff Kauffman, who directs & performs with the chorus, and who brought them to Mystic today. 

Of course we thank our sponsors: the Dominion Foundation, which makes the classes possible with support for busses, guest teachers, the chourus, supplies;  and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, which helps pay the teaching salary and cost at the Custom House Maritime Museum, where we hold classes and the after-school maritime classes--including chorus rehearsal. 

At left, the Lighthouse Kids take a break after their first performance. 

In fact, the chours, a special after-school activity of the Lighthouse Kids program this spring, has 25 members, but now that school is out, not everyone can show up for every performance. Present today were: Milliam Torres, Willow Gumpel-Jones, Mekih Rodriguez, Luke Waterman, Justin Aviles, Brianna Rich, Tahjee Galberth, Zair Alexander, Solana Parra Polemni, Tychala Edwards, and  Ana Rivera.

Far left, the Loghthouse Kids Sea Shanty Chorus were the first performers at the final concert of the Sea Music Festival

Near left, the Lighthouse Kids chorus marched behind fife and drum players through the Seaport to travel from one performance spece to another. 

It was an absolutely beautiful day.

In addition to to our Kids, another favorite New Haven Sound School's SS Chanteens--high school students--sang their repetoire of shanties today. It's this group that taught our chorus the song You Can't Eat the Oysters in New Haven Harbor.

At left, Jody Barthel, the Custom House Lighthouse Kids Sea Shanty Chorus and Geoff Kauffman perform.

At the Seaport, it also was great to see the Amistad back in the water. 

The ship will sail to New London later this week and wait at the State Pier before heading up to Norwich and the Freedom Bell Celebration, their first big public event since breaking the bow sprit two years ago. 

6.9.12  Never have we had a more-appropriate private event at the museum than Saturday night's surprise 60th birthday party for Todd Gipstein. 
Planned by Marcia, the party-planning subtrafuge was extraordinary and complicated. But it all worked out, and Todd, whose birthday actually was last Sunday, was absoultely stunned, or as he put it 'gob-struck'!

Just about one year ago, Todd launched his book, Legacy of the Light, at a book signing at the museum at our first annual lighthouse weekend. 

Todd and Marcia Gipstein (left) are, of course, the force behind the new Information Center/museum at Ledge Light Lighthouse (below). How perfect to have their photo taken Saturday night before the Fresnel Lens that originally was installed in New London's Ledge Light.

6.9.12 Saturday was a day full of intrique at the Custom House... morning and evening. 

Last week, Essex Woodcarver Ed Condon (left) installed a beautiful sign he carved for our lower-level reading room. 
The sign, the designation of the room, and the dedication luncheol/party, were all surprises for Archie Chester, a longtime and devoted volunteer at the museum. The surprise dedication and lunch for Archie & friends took place today at noon.

Archie Chester is always bringing treasures to the museum, be they books, people or pertinent information.

He has donated countless books and objects to the Custom House over the years, as well as his scrapbooks of All- Things-Maritime in New London--articles he has clipped from newspapers and magazines from his teenage years. These scrapbooks, now known as the Archibald J A Chester Archive, have been carefully catalogued over the past months by NLMS library volunteer Carol Rogers. 

Archie is also full of grand ideas, including the reenstatement of New London's storied Jibboom Club. In fact, as a teenager Archie visited the original club back. This was back in the 1950s.

Well, on Saturday we succeeded with half the surprise, as Archie came in to the museum earlier this week, showing a grand niece around,  and discovered the sign already installed above the door.

But the party, with friends, family and NLMS trustees, was a surprise! 1.) there was the sign. 2.) we had a spectacular cake created for us by The Cake Lady. 3.) there was lunch: two kinds of chowder from Captain Scott'sCarolyn Leuze's tossed salad with strawberries, and great cheeses & almonts from Thames River Beanery. And 4.) the former 'Jibboom Room' was reinstalled. The 'Two Lives of the Grandma Sue' exhibition was brough into the room and selections of the Chester Archive were put on display. A special thanks goes to NLMS librarian Brian Rogers and Carol, his wife and also a library volunteer, for all their work in bringing this together.

The timing, in fact, was a little rushed as we only had the span of time between the day that the sign was installed and the time out librarians are slated to fly off on a five-week vacation to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! The Rogers leave for Scotland and Switzerland later this week!

The photo at the far left shows Archie with Bob Stewart and Gordon Napier. Both friends of Archie's, the two have also become friends & donors to the museum--Bob gave us his remarkable ship miniatures, now on display with research notebooks in our Frank L LcGuire Library, and Gordon gave us a wealth of books about naval architecture and submarines. All three men worked for Electric Boat.

6.8.12 While we are enjoying all the new murals being painted around New London, I have to admit a partiality to the giant deep-sea divers who've started to emerge on Eugene O'Neill Drive on the back of the Homeward Bound Treasures building.

As described by The Day:
"Hard Hat Painters," by the artists Mike McNabney and Troy Zaushny, who are calling themselves "Team McZaushny," will depict historical marine elements with the city's future as a center for diversity, creativity and tourism.

We stopped to speak with the artists, and--turns out--they got the idea for the diver mural at the Custom House. They also photographed the suit and helmets we have on display (see below)!

6.7.12 Artist Adam Campos (left) stopped by to catch his friend and work-mates' exhibition. Adam and Sgott MacKenzie are both barristas at New London's beloved Bean & Leaf coffee shop. 

We have finally figured out a date for a closing celebratory event for the show: Scott MacKenzie's Further Adventures of the Giant Squid & the Seagull. It will be Thursday evening, June 28. See you there!

6.5.12 There has been a lot of work behind the scenes getting ready for the dedication of the new Archibald J. Chester Reading Room. First, the 'Grandma Sue' exhibition was reinstalled in the space. Today, New London Maritime Society, Frank L. McGuire Maritime Research Library librarian Brian Rogers (near left) got to work reconfiguring the room, which will become a part of the museum's library--holding the first-person accounts of sailing adventures, maritime fiction and periodicals. The impetus for all this activity is that the Reading Room sign was installed on Tuesday and we wish to hold a surprise dedication before Archie discovers it! 

About two years ago, we decided to name areas of the museum for two individuals who dedicated themselves to the Custom House in one way or another: Daniel Wolverton and Archie Chester. Dan Wolverton was a long-time trustee of the museum and a real stickler for accuracy. His special love was the museum's collection of ship models, and so we decided to name the lower-level hall the Daniel Wolverton Ship Model Gallery. Dan's gallery is 75% there... 

Fortunately, we will have Archie's space ready within the week!

6.4.12 Jennifer pulled it off, again!
Museum trustee Jennifer Hillhouse, (another stickler for details), is the force behind the museum's excursions. She started planning them for us in 2011, with a trip to Salem and the Peabody Essex Museum, and then a boat trip out into New London harbor to see nine area lighthouses.

This spring, she organized two bus trips, and one took place today (and we that NLMS president George Sprecace for sharing his photos with us). The trip was a walking tour of colonial Newport, and included a visit to Doris Dukes' collection of 18th-century American furniture, and the Redwood Library (at left), with its collection of Gilbert Stuart portraits and special tile exibition. Lunch was at The Black Pearl.

While the bus did not completely sell out, we did not lose money, and a great time was had by all.

Jennifer is happy to hear your suggestions for future trips. 

Please call the Custom House at 860-447-2501 and ask to be put on the mailing list for notices of all future excursions!

Far left, head docent and NLMS trustee Bill LaRoue, whose father had an illustrious and varied career in the United Stated Coast Guard, talks Coast Guard with NLMS trustee Jim Fleishel, a former USCG vice-admiral who for a wile controlled Long Island Sound.

Left, the scene on the bus heading up to Newport.

6.4.12 We all didn't get to go to Newport on Monday. In Manchester, NPR 'Story Corps' founder, David Isay (near left), was the keynote speaker at today's oral history conference 'Our State, Our Stories' at Manchester Community College and sponsored, in part, by the Connecticut Humanities Council.

Congratulations to East Lyme High School senior Morgan O'Toole (below), the first-place winner of the New London Maritime Society's Reid MacCluggage Black Maritime History Scholarship -- a $1,000 award! Morgan's fictional 'Diary of Joseph Lathrop' was well-researched, even including a segment with New London's Stone Fleet. Morgan received a certificate tonight at the high school's awards ceremony.

Here is a reminder: our Museum Shop is full of fascinating and fun, history-related items. We have a selection of 1812 items, including Union Jack and America flag-boxed matches (see below). We've also some new items from a Dutch design company, discovered on my travels in the Netherlands.

6.2.12 A couple of times a year, we are priveledged to host recitals for some of the area's music teachers. 

Today, Irene Rissi's violin and viola students came to the Custom House. This first set of pictures shows the first piece performed -- a group rendition of 'Twinkle twinkle little star", which, as we all know, was composed by Wolfgang Adameus Mozart.

Below left, students tune up in the gallery with the Giant Squid, Seagill and the Leviathan.

Earlier in the day, we were lucky to have the help of volunteers Rachel Perry and Nate Palme(shown far left ).

The two were invaluable in bringing up the chairs for the recital and carting down elements of the 'Grandma Sue' exhibition which we're moving to the old Jibboom Room.

6.1.12 Today was the last of the school year's Lighthouse Kids field trips. Today they visited Stonington and New England Science and Sailing -- NESS.

After their trips out in small boats to collect plankton samples, and work identifying what they collected in the NESS lab, the Kids walked down the street to the Old Lighthouse Museum, where they ate their lunch and then toured the museum.

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6.12.12 You might recollect that sailmaker - boat builder Kevin Farrar and friends have been hard at work for some time on what promises to be a very fast sailboat!. 

We stopped by today and Kevin (left) is getting close--painting the hull of his GP-26 It's being built in the old O'Neill Monte Cristo Garage, in downtown New London. He hopes to have it in the water in July.

We'll be having an exhibition about the boat and the building process later this month -- just in time for OpSail/SailFest
6.14.12 Today ended working with with Margaret Palmer (far left), who generously donated boxes of beautiful books to the museum. We then went out to Captain Scott's for chowda' --the perfect end to a day centered on Race Rock Lighthouse...
6.14.12 We have been trying to get out to Race Rock for a site visit since last fall. But due to rough conditions at the Race, three previous attempts were canceled. 

To back up: last year, the GSA announced that several lighthouses, (among them Race Rock) would be offered for 'adoption' to appropriate non-profits. We were among the six groups who submitted letters of intent, and who were accepted for the site visit as possible future stewards.

Today, for various reasons, only three groups remained. Each was allowed to bring two representatives out to see the lighthouse, along with GSA and National Park Service officials. We all met at 10 AM at the USCG station at Fort Trumbull.

Representing the New London Maritime Society was president George Sprecace and director Susan Tamulevich. 

The day was appropriately overcast as Race Rock loomed ahead. But upon arrival, there was no ghost. It was comorants who'd made a home there. They lazily took off as we pulled up to the ladder.

Race Rock has no dock; you climb right from the boat on to a simple ladder. The USCG agent led us inside. And whereas the granite exterior, built, as we all know, by New London's Captain T.A. Scott, looked incredably solid, the inside was in need of a serious overhaul. However, nothing seemed to be getting wet. The damage was from falling plaster and pealing paint, as well as a missing window or two.

This is the sign at the USCG station, Fort Trumbull, above. At left, comorants leave Race Rock as the USCG boat approaches,
In fact, we ended the excursion with the GSA official and several of our 'competetors' visiting New London Harbor Light. Unlike Race Rock, Huntington and Ledge lighthouses, ours still has its original Fresnel lens.
6.28.12 NLMS trustee Rob Pittaway headed the effort to get the Summer Newsletter out. Written on Sunday, printed Monday-Tuesday, it was put into the mail on Thursday and arrived in everybody's mailbox Friday -- really, not bad. 

If you are a member - donor to the New London Maritime Society - Custom House Maritime Museum, and you haven't received you newsletter, just give us a call at 860-447-2501 and we'll send it along. Or stop downtown at any coffee shop or the library, and you will find a copy to pick up there.

6.27.12 Another Wednesday and today we had THREE lighthouse tours. There always is some new way to have a mix-up, but the main two things lighthouse visitors should remember is 1.) to make advance reservations and 2.) the tours all leave from the Custom House Maritime Museum. 

Visitors today included a variety of New London families. I learned an interesting fact about the lighthouse from our visitors near left: that New London Harbor Light was the last lighthouse commissioned by the British before the Revolution.

6.26.12 Today was the much-anticipated NLMD bus trip to Maritime Boston.

Leaving New London at 8 AM, we had an easy bus trip up to the Charlestown Navy Yard, where we visited aboard the USS Constitution. "Old Ironsides"  was receiving it's final paint touch-ups in anticipation of OpSail arriving to Boston later in the week.

Setting foot aboard the Constitution was truly moving -- and it was a great time to be there, during the celebration of the biceniennial of the War of 1812, A new exhibition about the War of 1812 just opened in the museum at the Navy Yard. 

When the USS Constitution wood was first overhauled, wood was taken for use in federal buildings -- including our museum.

It was Ava's birthday (far left). Today, visitors to the museum also  visited the lighthouse, at Captain Scott's & at Sweeties.
Our photos here are a little out of sequence...

6.29.12 Left: visitors to the lighthouse this week include the Marianis, our neighbors on Pequot Avenue, and singer John Mock.
John, whose father was in New London with both the USCG and the FIshers Island ferry, spent much of his childhood in the area. We are anticipating his return August 5 with a special concert to benefit the lighthouse.

Left, as if by magic, stone cairns have been appearing at the end of Water Street -- the work of the mysterious Ant Man. 

6.23.12 Center and near left: Abraham Lincoln had a busy time at Norwich's luncheon to celebrate the Freedom Bell Weekend. Dale Plummer, organizer of the weekend and Norwich town historian is center.

Frederika Grey, board president of Amistad America, and NLMS president George Sprecace meet another great leader.

Friday also is when the Farmers Market appears on Parade Plaza. 

Glad to see lobster rolls finally offered downtown -- her is a sign by Captain's Pizza.

6.26.12 Everyone agreed the most amazing part of the trip was our visit to the lighthouse Nantucket. 
A group of volunteers purchased the ship just a few years ago for $1 and the got to work. 

Our group was the first to visit the ship following its overhaul on the outside -- including repainting. The ship looked beautiful. But the surprise was when you went into the ship -- it was as if it had never been touched. Here (left) is our handsome group on  deck. .

Above, three images from the USS Constitution. 
At left, Jennifer Hillhouse rings the bell aboard the lightship.
Below: some of this week's visitors to New London Harbor Lighthouse.
You can visit, too. We schedule tours every Wednesday, call 860-447-2501.