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.
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.