The American Pharos, or Light-House Guide: Robert Mills's coastal survey

Cover or 'American Pharos: reprint

Robert Mills had many technical interests in addition to architecture. It is a remarkable coincidence that the designer of New London's Custom House, now occupied by the New London Maritime Society and its museum, was also deeply interested in lighthouses.  A large, handsome Fresnel lens has long been an attraction of the Custom House Maritime Museum, and in recent years the Society has assumed ownership of three local lighthouses: New London Harbor Light, New London Ledge Light, and Race Rock Light in Long Island Sound.

In 1832, the year before he designed the New England custom houses, Mills published American Pharos, or Light-House Guide, a survey of American and Canadian coastal lighthouses intended to "serve commerce & the Mariner's safety," as quoted in the Liscombe biography. A detailed description of the coastline and 160 lighthouses, from the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, it was revised and reissued in 1854 as The American Light-House Guide.

Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

The American Pharos, or Light-House Guide: Robert Mills's coastal survey