Celebrating Coasties
2:56 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Fundraising Efforts Pick Up for National Coast Guard Museum

Credit National Coast Guard Museum Association

Like many cities, New London has plans to revitalize its downtown. One project local leaders hope will bring in  tourist dollars is the construction of a National Coast Guard Museum on the city’s waterfront.

The site for the proposed museum was announced last spring. The 54,000-square-foot facility will sit across from New London’s Union Station on a quarter of an acre. It will feature a pedestrian bridge that will connect it to Water Street and a nearby ferry terminal.

The idea for the museum was first hatched 15 years ago, according to John Johnson, the treasurer of the National Coast Guard Museum Association. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the armed services without a museum, and with the Coast Guard Academy in New London, he said the city is a perfect location.

"It will be an opportunity for the Coast Guard to finally be able to showcase what they’re all about," John said, "to showcase their 224-year history. But for New London, and those of us who do business in New London, it will become a national attraction.”

The U.S Coast Guard's tall ship "Barque Eagle" could dock near the National Museum
The U.S Coast Guard's tall ship "Barque Eagle" could dock near the National Museum
Credit U.S Coast Guard
Now that the site and the designs for the proposed museum are in place, supporters are working to raise the money needed to see it finally open. Johnson said that $200,000 has been raised so far in private donations, but it will take much more.

“Our overall cost will be somewhere north of $100 million," Johnson said. "Governor Malloy has already pledged $20 million. We’re hoping we can convince the [federal government] to come to the table with around $30 million. So that puts our responsibility, on the private side, to raise $50 million.”

Second District Congressman Joe Courtney has proposed legislation to have the U.S. mint create a commemorative coin to raise money for the national museum. The coin will honor the Coast Guard's history and heritage.

While the fundraising campaign continues, Johnson said supporters are looking forward to what they’re calling a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 6, 2014.