Located in the heart of downtown New London, the Custom House Maritime Museum tells the stories of New London’s waterfront, with both special exhibitions and permanent displays on local lighthouses, deep sea diving gear, nautical knots, and US Customs. It is the oldest continuously operating US custom house and was designed by the architect of the Washington Monument. The Museum has talks, special programs, concerts; It offers boat tours and has a great Museum Shop.
In 1839, New London and its US Custom House played significant role in the abolition of slavery in the United States–in particular, in the story of the Amistad. The Cuban schooner La Amistad sailed from Havana in 1839 carrying 52 enslaved Africans. Onboard the ship, the captives staged a successful revolt, taking over the ship, and sailing it to the east coast of the United States. The ship was intercepted by the American Navy and brought into New London, CT, where the Amistad freedom fighters caught the attention of a local abolitionist, Dwight P. Janes. That revolt and the subsequent events gave rise to the famous US Supreme Court case, United States v. The Amistad, the first such case to set African captives free. The ship stayed moored at the Lawrence Pier throughout the trial, and it was at New London’s US Custom House where, ultimately, the ship & its cargo were auctioned after the conclusion of the trial.
Address: 150 Bank Street, New London, CT 06320
Phone Number: (860) 447-2501
Winter Hours (January – March): Thursday – Sunday from 1 to 5 PM
Summer Hours (April – December): Wednesday – Sunday from 1 to 5 PM
Admission: $7, free for NLMS members, children age 14 and younger, USCG cadets, active-duty military & their families.