Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Ledge Light needs help

By Carol W. Kimball Published on 9/21/2009

I have learned two things about Ledge Light since I wrote about it last month. (New London Ledge Light: An Area Landmark, The Day Aug. 3).

First, since the light was built in 1909, this year marks its centennial. I guess I wasn't paying attention to my math at the time.

Second, when my brother in Virginia read that column, he e-mailed me to say that our father had told him that he worked on the construction of the wooden foundation for the light, a huge crib that was built on the Groton shore and floated out to the site to be filled with concrete.

I knew that my father had been a construction foreman for H.R. Douglas, the firm that built Ledge Light, but I had never heard that story. It must have been early in his career, perhaps when he was an apprentice carpenter. I have always loved Ledge Light, and I found the fact that my father worked on it very exciting.

For more information about the Centennial Gala, e-mail Light@, phone 860-445-1949 or write New London Ledge Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 855, New London CT 06320.

Now that the light has been guarding our harbor for 100 years, time has taken its toll. Wind, rain, blizzards, hurricanes and ice storms have battered the structure, causing damage and deterioration. No longer is the Coast Guard responsible for the care and maintenance of the light. New London Ledge Lighthouse Foundation, the volunteer group now in charge, faces a grave challenge.

Neglected for years, the light's in a bad way. The foundation is worn and pulling away from the base. Metal fittings are rusted. Bricks need repointing. The interior needs repair and repainting and updating of electrical systems and plumbing. What's necessary is a professional survey to find exactly what has to be done. This venerable structure needs a lot of work if it is to survive another century.

That's why the Ledge Lighthouse Foundation is planning a centennial gala. This once-in-a-century celebration of the light will recognize its birthday, and also will be a fundraiser to finance the survey.

Scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Port 'N Starboard, Ocean Beach, New London, the gala will include a cocktail hour and music, a buffet dinner and a silent auction of unusual objects related to the light. Tickets are $75 each.

The committee promises presentations and surprises, including some songs written especially for the light. In addition, the special feature will be the premiere of National Geographic photographer/producer Todd Gipstein's new documentary film titled “Ledge Light.”

For 100 years the beams of Ledge Light have guided mariners to safety through treacherous shoals and ledges at the entrance to New London harbor. It's one of our most recognizable landmarks, with its unusual Second Empire architecture. It's also the exclusive domain of Ernie, resident ghost. Now this local treasure is in need of help.


EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: One hundred (100) years of history. Think of what the lighthouse could tell us if it could speak. Think of the hearty souls, who served there and the ships and people, its inhabitants helped. Maybe going to the fund raiser would be a good thing. What do you think?

My grandfather served as the assistant lighthouse keepers at Montauk Point Lighthouse and Orient Point. He would row a boat from Orient Point light to visit the Plum Island Lighthouse. My grandfather married the Plum Island Lighthouse keeper's daughter. My grandfather's name was William C. Baker.


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