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  October 21, 2002

Avery Point Lighthouse Placed on Historic Register
By Sherry Fisher

The 55-foot tall Avery Point Lighthouse perched at the edge of Long Island Sound has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The national recognition means that the lighthouse at UConn's Avery Point campus will be eligible for federal funding for restoration and preservation.

Image: Avery Point Lighthouse

Thomas Duguay, associate director of the Avery Point campus, says it's a significant step in the process. "The lighthouse is an important landmark on campus," he says. "We are very excited about being able to move forward with the renovation."

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic properties recognized by the federal government as worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The lighthouse is one of only 23 remaining in Connecticut.

Counting $150,000 in state funding, the Avery Point Lighthouse Society, a grassroots group, has raised $220,000 to help pay for the restoration and relighting of the crumbling 60-year-old sandstone structure. In addition to fund raising, one of the society's goals was to secure the federal historic designation.

James Streeter, co-chairman and co-founder of the Avery Point Lighthouse Society, says the national designation is well deserved. "The lighthouse is part of our maritime history," he says. "And reportedly it was built as a symbolic representation of the Coast Guard's lighthouse responsibilities.

Streeter also notes that it is difficult to raze a structure once it's in the national register.

Erected in 1943, the lighthouse was the last to be built in Connecticut. It was constructed when the Coast Guard developed a training station at the site, a 72-acre estate once owned by industrialist Morton F. Plant. The state acquired the estate in 1967.

Duguay says the renovation will begin with the masonry structure, the door and windows. Depending on weather conditions, renovation work will either start soon or be postponed until the spring.

Renovating the interior of the lighthouse is also a future plan. Plans include the repair of 32 balusters made from Italian marble and construction of a brick walkway.

Bricks that can be inscribed with a dedication are being sold for $50 each. To purchase a brick, contact the Avery Point Lighthouse Society at 860.445.5417.

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