The appeal of lighthouses seems nearly universal. Could it be their simple beauty (each different as to be readily identifiable to mariners) or the lore of the sea?
McBride pointed out that Aug. 7 is National Lighthouse Day, but he and the museum are taking the entire month to celebrate one landmark in particular: Faulkner's Island Lighthouse, about three miles off of Guilford.
Throughout the month, the museum will host an exhibition on the history of the Faulkner's Island Lighthouse, built in 1802; as such it's the second oldest in Connecticut and the 23rd oldest in the country, he said.
"We were beat by one year by New London, which dates to 1801," he said, laughing.
The light is now fully automated, and the U.S. Coast Guard is always ready to change bulbs when they burn out, he added.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, the museum will sponsor "Finders & Keepers: Lighthouse Fun for Kids," during which youngsters will learn about lighthouses through various craft projects and such mariners' skills as tying knots and using signal flags.
A scavenger hunt through the Faulkner's Island Lighthouse exhibit also will take place. Day-long activities are included with museum admission.
Then on Sunday, Aug. 18, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., visitors are invited to the museum's "Meet a 19th Century Lighthouse Keeper" event, during which a costumed interpreter will describe a keeper's life, as well as War of 1812 incidents at Faulkner's Light, McBride said. It's included with museum admission.
Since the island is part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and has one of the largest colonies of nesting roseate terns in the northeastern United States, it is generally off-limits to the public throughout the year, McBride explained.
However, its caretakers -- the nonprofit Faulkner's Light Brigade -- annually hosts an "open house." This year, public boat trips to the island will be offered on Sept. 7-8, he said.
While at the Whitfield Museum visitors can tour the Old Stone House, which is Connecticut's oldest house and New England's oldest stone house, dating to 1639 (19 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth). It was built for Henry Whitfield, a minister.
The house has massive stone walls and chimneys, a steeply-pitched roof and casement windows that reflect the style of post-medieval domestic architecture found in England, but rare in 17th century America, according to museum literature.
Owned and operated by the state of Connecticut since 1899, the museum was restored by noted architects Norman Isham and J. Frederick Kelly in the early 1900s. Considered an important example of Colonial Revival restoration work, the site has been popular with tourists from around the world for more than 100 years, the museum notes.
Visitors are invited to tour three buildings on the site. At the Visitor Center is a gift shop and changing exhibits in two galleries. In the Whitfield House, visitors may take self-guided tours through three floors filled with 17th to 19th century furnishings and artifacts. For children, educational game sheets are available. In the Education Building are more hands-on activities and historical exhibits.
On the landscaped grounds, visitors will find many stone walls, a bronze statue representing Henry Whitfield and a ship's cannon from the War of 1812.
Henry Whitfield State Museum, 248 Old Whitfield St., Guilford. May 1-Dec. 15, Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. $8; $6 seniors, college students; $5 ages 6-17. 203-453-2457, firstname.lastname@example.org.