OPEN: Located in downtown New London, a short walking distance from the City's railroad, bus & ferry transportation hub, the Custom House is open
Telling the stories of New London's waterfront, the Custom House Maritime Museum offers lighthouse tours and boat trips, an annual chowda'fest, artifacts relating to local lighthouses, US Customs and the Amistad, along with changing exhibitions and a great Museum Shop.
ADDRESS: 150 Bank Street, New London, Connecticut 06320.
HOURS: January through March, we're open Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, from 1—5 PM,
or by appointment. call: 860-447-2501.
April through December, we're open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday), from 1—5 PM, or by appointment. call: 860-447-2501.
or by appointment. call: 860-447-2501.
PHONE: 860-447-2501, FAX: 860-447-8086
ADMISSION: The Custom House Maritime Museum is always FREE for current members, individuals with current military or USCG cadet ID and children under age 14 (with adult)
Admission is a $7 suggested donation for all others.
TOURS: Groups may schedule tours by calling 860-447-2501.
Group tour admission is $5 per visitor.
Tour the Robert Mills US Custom House from attic to sub-basement!
Custom House Architectural tours can be arranged by appointment at $8 per visitor.
VOLUNTEER - to find out more click >> HERE.
SHOP: Our MUSEUM SHOP has books & gifts with New London & maritime themes.
The Custom House Maritime Museum/New London Maritime Society (NLMS) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization and receives no regular funding from any other organization. We rely entirely on donations and the money raised from visitors to the Museum. There is only one staff member; the museum is run by a dedicated band of volunteers who give generously of their time.
The New London Maritime Society (NLMS) was established in 1983 by an impassioned group of citizens/volunteers who worked to preserve New London's U.S. Custom House.
They succeeded! Housed in the 179-year-old Robert Mills building at 150 Bank Street, today we are a nonprofit historic site—the nation’s oldest continuously-operating U.S. Custom House, scene to much of the City’s maritime history—and an educational organization. In October 2009, we took on stewardship of New London Harbor Light—an area icon. Established 250 years ago and still an active aid to navigation, it is the first lighthouse built on Long Island Sound. In 2013, we took ownership of Race Rock Light Station, off Fishers Island, New Your, and this summer we become owners of New London Ledge Light, which will be administered through the Ledge Light Foundation.
Through museum exhibitions and educational programs, the museum actively promotes, protects and interprets the maritime history and current life of the port of New London and the surrounding region.
To paraphrase our City Council, who wrote in 1832 about their proposed new custom house: we are a true ‘gem on the waterfront’.
The Custom House Maritime Museum has developed into a community museum, which is a very special kind of place. We work to illustrate the maritime connections among us by presenting the stories of our neighbors, and we do this in several ways: the museum has become something of a social center, where people of all walks of life meet to talk, tell stories, hold meetings, and play cribbage; we present “Jibboom Roundtables” –panel discussions featuring individuals who share a common maritime interest or experience (recent roundtable topics have included tugboat workers, design of New London’s Parade, oyster farming in Long Island Sound). We develop 'cabinet' exhibitions drawn from our members’ personal experiences: the ‘Two Lives of the Grandma Sue’—the story of one of one member’s 80-year-old grandfather, who fulfilled a lifelong dream to build & sail a boat to Florida, is one example. We also bring attention to the people and events which have made our region great. A recent exhibition on Rod Johnstone, designer of the J/Boats, is such a show. To get the word out, we produce quarterly newsletters and a program on local cable television: Custom House Maritime Matters.
Please stop by and see for yourself.
New London Maritime Society’s Vision is for the public to fully appreciate New London and its maritime history, and accept their personal responsibilities as stewards of that history and of Long Island Sound -- a vital natural and cultural resource.
The Mission of the New London Maritime Society (NLMS) is to protect and preserve New London's U.S. Custom House, three area lighthouses, and Long Island Sound, and to promote, preserve, and interpret the rich maritime life & history of the port of New London and the surrounding region through museum exhibitions, educational programs, and preservation initiatives.
In addition to maintaining the Robert Mills 1833 US Custom House and running it as a maritime museum, over the past three years, New London Maritime Society has taken ownership of three historic lighthouses, which (under the auspices of the National Park Service) the Society actively preserves and makes accessible to the public through visitation, exhibitions and/or online resources. (In 2014, NLMS carried out a major restoration of New London Harbor Light.) The Custom House Maritime Museum remains a primary site and teller of the Amistad story, with a permanent Amistad exhibition and ongoing freedom-related programs, which include membership in the CT Freedom Trail and the USPS Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Over the next five years, New London Maritime Society, an independent, community-based organization, will continue to build its successful educational programs, library, collections, and preservation efforts to become a true ‘safe harbor’ and champion for the preservation of our local maritime history, while providing educational opportunities, and bringing attention to important issues relating to New London and its nearby waters.
NMLS has an excellent reputation: the organization keeps its promises, the effect of which is born out by excellent community support and consistently good press coverage.
NLMS is an active organization with good team spirit, four first-rate historic maritime sites, a growing research library, and a museum housing an impressive array of artifacts. We produce a variety of exciting educational programs, such as our annual Sentinels on the Sound lighthouse celebration and boat tours, now in its fifth year.
NLMS has ongoing relationships with other organizations (the Ledge Light Foundation, Save the Sound, CT Freedom Trail, New London Landmarks, and the Henry L. Ferguson Museum, among them) to cooperate on larger events and projects, such as the 2014 Morgan celebration/Jibboom Parade, our 3rd-grade local-history initiative with the NL Public Schools, and the current preservation effort to prevent the sale of Plum Island.
While we now are successfully fulfilling our mission, not having any extra money is a constant pressure, so we remain event-driven. With no on-going paid development, administrative, or maintenance help, the director cannot use her time as well as she could. The threat of general fatigue and of the director/volunteers being over-extended could result in the loss of quality in programs and loss of opportunities.
It is critical that we not lose momentum.
The organization either has to have reliable people volunteer for key duties or else it must hire more professional help. Without this, we cannot continue to fulfill our considerable responsibilities or grow.
Steps to be taken:
1.)Board members/key volunteers take on specific long-term responsibilities. These can be small or large tasks, but the important thing is that the person follows through. 2.)A fund-raising committee must be established to create and enact a development plan. 3.)Once the first two steps are in place and working well, additional duties can be addressed: responsibility for the individual lighthouses, a new roof (capital campaign) for the custom house, etc.
Getting these first two steps in hand should be the focus of the first half of 2015.
The complex Sentinels on the Sound program is our signature program. It is a community-wide effort that showcases what is authentic to New London’s maritime story, past and present. June through October will need ‘all hands on deck’. Following this Sentinels season, important issues to be addressed will include: new docks at Harbor Light and Race Rock, purchase of a tour boat, other partnerships.
By the end of 2016, we should be on more-solid footing, with smoother over-all operations and a more-secure financial plan in place.
By the end of 2017, with a solid year of secure finances and support, we should be able to address item # 3 above: assigning additional duties/responsibilities.
It will be self-evident if we have not achieved these goals; the result will be a contracting of our vision and mission, and overall fatigue within the organization.
If we do get ourselves organized and humming, there are great opportunities ahead: working towards the national LIS marine park, cooperating with the USCG Museum.
What we do over the next two years is critical in allowing us to meet both our responsibilities and these exciting opportunities.
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