Lynde Point Lighthouse, Borough of Fenwick, Connecticut
It’s nothing new for NLMS-&-lighthouses to be written up in the paper. Sometimes we’re shredded, sometimes we’re praised.
We take it in stride at the Custom House.
The current round in The Day and the Shoreline papers is about our recent application for the Lynde Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is being given away by the federal government. The competition to win the lighthouse is being framed as one between the Maritime Society — strong advocates of public access, and ‘the tony Borough of Fenwick’ — the private, wealthy enclave where the lighthouse sits. In fact there may be many more applicants. We applied at the request and with the support of a number of CT River nonprofits — people interested in coastal resilience, bird counts, conservation easements, preservation of the landmark, and yes: access. How could we say no?
While Lynde Point Lighthouse is a prominent feature of the Borough of Fenwick, its significance as a navigational aid and national historic landmark has much broader significance. Lynde Point is one of a series of major lighthouses constructed early in the 19th century to guide ships along the Connecticut coast from New York through Long Island Sound and out into the Atlantic.
New London was involved in the Lynde Point Lighthouse from its earliest days – even before it was built in Fenwick. NLMS’s McGuire Library archives contain a series of letters dealing with the rebuilding of the Lynde Point Lighthouse in 1838 (photo, above). As federal agents, U.S. Customs superintendents often oversaw administration of area lighthouses. In our collection, we have the detailed quarterly reports sent to Washington written by New London’s customs superintendent, Ingoldsby Work Crawford concerning the purchase of oil, wicks, and issues relating to regional lighthouse keepers.
Although things got off to a bumpy start, we have successfully managed the access issues in New London at Harbor Lighthouse (although local zoning rulings still prohibit any visits by school groups…). That lighthouse has been preserved, the grounds landscaped. We teach about Harbor Light every day at the Custom House museum and provide year-round public access. With new partners on the CT River, I believe we could do the same at Lynde Point. It is a beautiful lighthouse, with great teaching opportunities. We have hope.
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Tru-earth laundry detergent is sold in strips — no plastic! Support the NL Maritime Society while protecting the earth. Find out more at http://tru-earth.sjv.io/NewLondonMaritimeSociety
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