Built in 1943
On Avery Point, east side of Thames River entrance. You can visit the lighthouse situated on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. Check in with security before you roam the campus.
|Latitude: 41° 18' 54" N
||Longitude: 72° 03' 36" W|
Avery Point Lighthouse is located on Avery Point, at the east side of the Thames River entrance. It was the last lighthouse in Connecticut to be built in 1943 and was constructed as a memorial and testament to all lighthouse keepers. It guided mariners to a small cove east of the light, and along Fisher’s Island Sound.
The University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, where the lighthouse is located, was once an estate of the wealthy industrialist, Morgan Plant. Plant built a 31-room mansion of stone which he used as a summer cottage called the Branford House. The property was originally sold to the state of Connecticut, then deeded to the Coast Guard as a training facility. The first light that was used in the beacon consisted of eight 200-watt bulbs as a white light. Coast Guard personnel maintained the lighthouse over the ensuing years.
The Coast Guard relocated its training facility to Governor’s Island in New York in 1967. The University of Connecticut took over the land and buildings, but without the necessary funds, left the lighthouse to fall into disrepair over the years.
In July of 1997, the University deemed the lighthouse a safety hazard. A local native who worked for the police department, Jim Streeter, in coordination with the American Lighthouse Foundation, helped to establish the Avery Point Lighthouse Society to raise funds to save the light. Some of the funding to restore the deteriorating structure came from sales of over 2,000 personalized bricks from individual donors as part of a new landscaped walkway. Many of the services and materials were donated by the local townspeople to help complete the restoration in 2006.
Places to Visit Nearby:
In Groton, you can check out the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum. This is the nation’s official submarine museum, which houses the Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine.
Mystic Seaport is also nearby, and is an outdoor recreated 19th century village and educational maritime museum, with artifacts, exhibits, a working preservation shipyard, and four National Historic Landmark vessels. A replica lighthouse that is constructed familiar to Brant Point light on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts is also found there. You can get a nice view from across the river.
Argia Mystic Cruises
The Mystic Aquarium provides educational and up close exhibits of marine life that include sharks, jelly fish, eels, and barracuda.
The Coast Guard Academy Museum, in nearby New London, contains artifacts that span over two hundred years of history of America's premier maritime service.
- From US Route I-95, take Exit 87, Route 349, into Groton.
- Continue along Route 349 and turn right onto Rainville Ave.
- Turn left at onto Benham Road.
- Follow over a mile past the Shennecossett Golf Course to the entrance of the University of Connecticut.
- Follow past the police station (let them know your intentions) and the lighthouse is a few hundred yards from the circular drive.
Avery Point Lighthouse Society
PO Box 1552
Groton, CT 06340
Local Boat Tour
DownEast Lighthouse Cruises
Cruises are from a real lobster boat.
Phone: (860) 460-1802
Pine Island Marina,
My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions you can explore, and tours. You'll also over over 360 images to enjoy as well.