Lighthouse Museum Campaign

Preservation Restoration Access

More than 90 years ago the Stonington Historical Society stepped forward to preserve the 1840 Stonington Harbor Light and create a museum dedicated to Stonington's history.

The Lighthouse Museum has stood as an inspiring beacon for generations of students, visitors, and residents of Southeastern Connecticut and beyond.

It's time to take another step forward. It's time to advance our standing as a museum that is open to all, and will inspire future generations.

Historic Significance

Built in 1840, the Lighthouse Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the first lighthouse in the United States to become a maritime museum. It preserves the history of Stonington and southeastern Connecticut and endures as a compelling feature of the cultural landscape. Exhibits explore an extraordinary collection of artifacts that illustrate nearly 400 years of Stonington’s history. The Lighthouse marks not only the entrance to Stonington Harbor, but explores the times when Stonington seamen like Nathaniel Palmer and Edmund Fanning were charting the world; when Stonington served as the nexus for all steamship and rail travelers between New York City and points north; and when Stonington could claim credit for rebuffing two British attacks.

The Restoration In Progress

To date, work has been completed that corrects serious structural and environmental hazards. New climate controls, electrical systems and wiring have been installed. Structural supports have been reinforced, and barriers against moisture and insects will keep harmful elements out.

We have made great progress, but our work is not done. A Visitor Center will create a welcoming and accessible museum for the 21st-century. A dynamic museum with changing and expanded exhibits that represent diverse voices will be accessible to all. Improvements to one of the few remaining green spaces in Stonington Borough will create a community terrace, granite benches, and significant grading improvements for ease of use, and off-street ADA-accessible parking.

Virtual Tour: Click for an Interactive View of the First & Second Floors of the Lighthouse

Our Strongest Supporters Help Make it Possible

John & Judith Alexander

Frances Ashley

Mr. & Mrs. Meredith M. Brown

Josephine R. Bump

Richard & Koko Gildersleeve

William R. Griffith

Ann Lobdell

Sylvia & Curtis Lynch

Peter & Prue Fairbrother Meehan

The Montauk Foundation

Bob & Virginia Montgomery

The Thomas & Laura Moran Family

Wright & Anna Maria Palmer

Joyce & Francis P. Pandolfi

Cheryl & David Purvis

Tom & Candy Sanford

“Stonington means a great deal to me. The Lighthouse is just part of home; I know it inside and out.”

Prue Fairbrother MeehanDonor to the Lighthouse Museum Campaign

What’s Next? A Fully Accessible Visitor Center & Seaside Terrace

The footprint of our planned addition measures less than 500 square feet, but will create almost 1,000 square feet of usable space thanks to a finished basement. The main floor will house a Visitor Center providing access to the entire first floor of the Museum for those with physical challenges. New and expanded exhibits will incorporate original scholarship and feature interactive and multimedia components, allowing us greater flexibility to showcase Stonington’s history. Improvements to the grounds will include an inviting terrace, granite benches, walking paths and ADA accessible parking.


Oudens-Ello Architecture is a Boston-based firm with extensive museum and historic restoration experience. The Stonington Historical Society chose Oudens-Ello for its nuanced and adaptable approach to design. They are well-versed in the restoration and preservation of existing structures and the unique collections within them. Past projects include work for the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.


Beginning in 2012, Oudens-Ello conducted a complete inventory of the structural and environmental issues impacting the Lighthouse and created a plan for historic restoration and universal access. Design work followed and several revisions were made incorporating the suggestions of the community. In May of 2017, the Stonington Borough Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved our plan, thus allowing the Stonington Historical Society to proceed with the restoration of the Lighthouse and construction of the Visitor Center.


To manage the restoration, and construction of the addition, we have recruited a dedicated Lighthouse Museum Committee that includes architects, marketing and public relations professionals, historic preservation experts, neighbors, and other community members who care deeply about this project.

  • October 2019: Groundbreaking
  • November 2019 – April 2020: Interior & Exterior Restoration
  • July 2020: Phase I Project Completion
  • Fully Accessible Visitor Center
  • Fully Accessible Restroom
  • Handicap Accessible Parking
  • Seaside Terrace & Landscaping
  • Walking Paths
  • Multipurpose Room
  • Total: $1,450,000

Video Interview

Conrad Ello is the lead architect on the Lighthouse Restoration Project and partner in the Boston architecture firm Oudens Ello. In this video, he discusses the challenges and opportunities created by this project. His firm specializes in cultural, academic and commercial projects.

Your Legacy

The Stonington Historical Society is deeply appreciative of the widespread generosity in support of the Lighthouse Museum Campaign. With your help we successfully raised $1,900,000 for the Lighthouse Project to date. There is still much to do, and this worthy effort could be your legacy. Contact Stonington Historical Society’s Director of Advancement Maddie Mott-Ricci to learn more about this project and how your family’s leadership gift may be forever remembered as an important contribution to the character of our seaside neighborhoods.

  • Lighthouse Park is reserved for a gift of $1,000,000+
  • Visitor Center is reserved for a gift of $500,000+
  • Lighthouse Tower is reserved for a gift of $250,000+
  • Courtyard is reserved for a gift of $250,000+
  • Exhibit Rooms are reserved for gifts of $100,000+