State Senator Andrea Stillman and New London Mayor Daryl Finizio did the honors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to christen two eight-foot, shallow water marine buoys that are newly-installed in front of the Custom House Maritime Museum on Bank Street in New London on Monday.
So what are they called? The buoy to the right is named after the museum's lead docent Bill Laroue. The buoy to the left is named for museum trustee Jennifer Hillhouse, who was instrumental in bringing the two buoys to the museum.
It was during a visit to one of the New London museum's three remaining "sister" custom houses in New England that gave Hillhouse the idea. All of them were designed by the nation's first federal architect, Robert Mills—who is most famous for creating the Washington Monument.
They all look a bit like banks, which Laroue pointed out is fitting as before the nation instituted an income tax, custom taxes were the main source of the country's revenue. Hillhouse noticed, however, that the placement of large buoys in front of one of the former customs houses gave it a more nautical feel.
She thought that doing the same would transform New London's Greek-revival, granite building and make it look "more like a museum and less like a bank."
Obtaining the federally-owned buoys from South Weymouth, Mass., proved to be quite an ordeal but Hillhouse was undeterred by the red tape and with the help of her sons Ken and Mike, Odd Brevik of New England Pump and Valve, with funding from the New London Facade Committee, among others, the buoys were installed just in time for the New London Maritime Society's 30th anniversary celebration to kick off the museum's fall season and Connecticut's Maritime History and Heritage Week.