Like a wedding cake rising out of the Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Thames River in Groton, Ledge Light was built in the Second Empire/Colonial Revival style in 1909 to address an increase in boat traffic around the turn of the century. The elegant three-story brick and granite design was heavily influenced by two prominent landowners in Waterford and Groton, Edward Harkness and Morton Plant, who wanted the lighthouse to be constructed in the style of their homes. The United States Coast Guard took over in 1939 upon its merger with the Lighthouse Service and the light was automated in 1987. It is currently owned and maintained by the New London Maritime Society as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program. In 1990 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
An endearing feature of Ledge Light are the legendary tales of Ernie, the former keeper said to haunt the lighthouse. According to the tales, Ernie was overcome with grief after his wife left him for the Captain of the Block Island Ferry. He took his own life by leaping from the top of the lighthouse. The stories even attracted attention of the TV show Most Haunted, which dedicated an episode to exploring Ledge Light’s ghostly past.
Today, the Ledge Light Foundation offers special tours of the building’s interior ,which run from July- September. Visit their website for more details on how to purchase tickets. The New London Maritime Society and Cross Sound Ferry also offer a variety of lighthouse tours that include Ledge Lighthouse.