Stonington Harbor is located in New London County in southeastern Connecticut off Fishers Island Sound. Just five kilometers (3 miles) southeast of Mystic, Stonington Harbor is a little over 70 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Providence, Rhode Island. In 2000, almost 18 thousand people lived in Stonington Harbor.
The indigenous Pequots inhabited the area of Stonington Harbor when the first Europeans arrived there in 1649. As part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was named Souther Towne (Southerton) in 1658. When Connecticut received a royal charter as a colony of England, the future Stonington Harbor became part of the new colony in 1662.
In 1665, Southerton was named Mistick, and the town was renamed again the next year to Stonington. The founders of the town were Thomas Miner, William Chesebrough, Walter Palmer, and Thomas Stanton. North Stonington was established as a separate parish in 1724 and later incorporated in 1807.
When Stonington Harbor's fishing fleet entered the sealing trade in the late 1790s, the town realized its first real wealth. The sealing trade involved taking seals from islands on the Patagonian and Chilean coasts and selling the fur in China.
During the American Revolution, Stonington Harbor repelled a bombardment by the British Navy when the frigate HMS Rose attacked the town. During the War of 1812, four of his majesty's vessels (HMS Ramillies, HMS Dispatch, HMS Terror, and HMS Pactolus) engaged in a three-day attack on Stonington Harbor. The town's citizens valiantly resisted the attack, losing only one person. Having suffered more serious losses, the British left Stonington Harbor.
The United States government established the first lighthouse, the Stonington Harbor Light, in 1823. During the 19th Century, Stonington Harbor was home to a small sealing, fishing, and whaling fleet and traded enough with the West Indies to be recognized as a Port of Entry in 1942. The Customs House remains as a reminder of those days.
In 1852, the New London and Stonington Railroad Company began operations. In 1904, the Groton and Stonington Street Railway, a trolley line, was created to serve the surrounding area. Buses replaced the trolley in 1928.
Modern Stonington Harbor has seen many new residents who use the town's historic houses as second homes. Since the middle 1990s, many of the historic homes have been revamped.