Inside U.S. Custom House Maritime Museum at New London Sailfest
Posted on July 16, 2015
Write-up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com
Steeped in maritime history, New London, Connecticut is home to the oldest continuously-operated custom house in the nation which is now a waterfront museum. Open for tours it made for an interesting stop during Sailfest 2015, that ran July 10, 11 and 12.
Designed in 1833 by architect Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument, the exterior of the Maritime Museum is beautiful. It was built with light-colored stone and has a majestic looking entrance of steps, pillars and heavy wooden doors accented by long windows. Once inside, visitors can join a tour or roam from room to room taking in exhibits that herald the sea.
Both fascinating and at the same time eerie was a display of early, underwater diving gear that resembles something one might see in a scary movie about exploration of creatures in the deep, dark and unknown oceans. It is amazing to ponder the courage of those early divers who used such rudimentary equipment.
Also on display was a wall of sailors’ knots, local lighthouse replicas, a tall ship replica, anchor prints and a large reproduction of a commemorative New London Harbor “Forever” stamp issued in 2013. A small gift shop is located on the first floor.
Should your travels bring you to New London, the museum is a worthwhile attraction. It is only feet away from the dock where a tall ship was anchored for Sailfest 2015. The event featured visits from the vessels the Mystic Whaler and the Amistad, the closing off of downtown so vendors could set-up outdoor tents and live music available throughout the weekend. A “Fireworks Extravaganza” sponsored by The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods Resort was held Saturday night.
U.S. Custom House Museum, 150 Bank Street New London, CT 860-447-2501 or go to http://www.nlmaritimesociety.org. Exhibits change. Open year-round, summer Tues-Sun 1-5 p.m., winter Thurs-Sun 1-5 p.m. or by appointment. Summertime New London Lighthouse Boat Tours are offered on Sat & Sun through October 25.