Digest>Archives> June 2000

Avery Point Needs Help Now

Only Memorial Lighthouse Ever Built in America

By Timothy Harrison


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Avery Point Lighthouse, Connecticut.
Photo by: Jeremy D’Entremont

It was back in December, 1997 that Lighthouse Digest added Avery Point Lighthouse in Connecticut to its Doomsday List of Endangered Lighthouses. Since then, next to nothing has been done to raise money to save the lighthouse.

The American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) started fund raising for the lighthouse several years ago. Because of the lack of local interest to save the lighthouse, fund raising was put on hold while ALF continued to help save other lighthouses where the danger was more imminent and there was more local interest. The money raised by ALF for Avery Point is still maintained in a separate account, however it is only a small amount of the expected $125,000 or more needed for the crumbling lighthouse.

However, now under the direction of Jim Streeter, a local group of concerned citizens has been formed the Avery Point Lighthouse Society to raise money on a local level and ALF has restarted their fund raising.

The lighthouse is located on the grounds of the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Campus in the Eastern Point area of the City of Groton. Hopefully, the University will promote the lighthouse’s importance and ask its alumni for financial assistance to save the structure.

The Avery Point campus was originally the site of the 72-acre estate of Morton F. Plant, a wealthy industrialist, philanthropist and yachtsman. After his death, his estate was sold to the State of Connecticut at auction in 1938. Hopefully some of Plants’ descendants can be located and might be instrumental in helping to raise funds and public awareness.

During World War II, the United States Coast Guard occupied the site with a Coast Guard Training Station. During that time, the Avery Point Lighthouse was constructed as a memorial tower to lighthouse keepers. Although the tower was lighted as a symbolic gesture of the Coast Guards lightkeeping responsibilities of the time, the tower was never officially designated as an aid to navigation.

Maintenance of the lighthouse stopped in 1967 when the Coast Guard closed the base and the property reverted back to the State of Connecticut.

This story appeared in the June 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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