Dedication of the Thomas Lee House, 1914
Dedication of the Thomas Lee House, 1914
Thomas Lee House

   The Thomas Lee House (c. 1660) is one of the oldest wood frame houses in Connecticut still in its primitive state.  The Lee House is listed on the National Register of Historic Houses, and is open for tours during the summer months. Learn more about the Lee House at

About Us

Take a Virtual Tour of the Lee House.

   For the past few years, we have been preparing for the installation of a hand-hewn beam in the second floor East room of the house, to replace the original, but badly deteriorating, one. To learn more about this project, and what you can do to help, visit

The Beam

   Several of our volunteers work to maintain the East Lyme Archives, a collection of documents and photographs in the East Lyme Room of the East Lyme Public Library. If you would like to know more about this program, you can read about it at

East Lyme Archives

Little Boston School House
Little Boston School House

   The first record of a school in the area of the Lee House dates to at least 1734. The present building was erected on land donated by Elisha Lee. In use until 1922, the building was eventually moved to its present location, next to the Lee House. It was donated to the East Lyme Historical Society in 1926. Learn more about the Little Boston School House at

About Us.

   Anthropology students from East Lyme and Ledyard High Schools, under the direction of James Littlefield and Dr. John Pfeiffer, conducted an archaeological study of the site of the original Little Boston School House. Their results can be found at:

Anthropology @ ELHS

Smith-Harris House, c. 1845
Thomas Avery House
(Smith-Harris House)

   East Lyme is also home to the Thomas Avery House, a c.1845 Greek Revival farmhouse on the National Register of Historic Houses. Also known as the Smith-Harris House, the house is located at 33 Society Road, Niantic, and is open for tours on weekends throughout the summer, or by appointment the rest of the year. You may contact the museum by phone at 860.739.0761 or email at [email protected].

   For more information, visit:

The Smith-Harris House Museum

82 Plants Dam Road, East Lyme
Samuel Smith House

   East Lyme’s most recent historic acquisition, located at 82 Plants Dam Road, East Lyme, is recognized on the National Register of Historic Houses as the Samuel Smith House, c.1685, with additions in 1735 and 1812. It is currently being developed as a living museum of the 17th century. For more information, visit:

Samuel Smith House

The Beam is In!

   On July 17, 2014 the beam was lifted, put into place and final fastening, closing up and finishing work is in process as I write. The Lee House is most certainly deserving of the treatment by the best hands available. Our original feelings about Early New England Restorations have been confirmed. They are doing a masterful job. The memorial plates are also being fastened just prior to closing up of the walls.

   The Day was interested enough to do a nice article in the 7/21/14 publication (here).

   It was not surprising that rot was found in a couple of structural posts. This was cured, the corners strapped with steel plating and we can be confident that the house is stronger than before.

   This being our 100th Anniversary of the purchase of the Lee House we thought it fitting to schedule this installation this year as a demonstration of our commitment to preserve this Town treasure and window to history. Thank you to all the donators to this project, all those involved in past preservation projects and those ladies that had the foresight to purchase the Lee House for the East Lyme Historical Society 100 years ago

Sincerely,

Norman B. Peck III, President
The East Lyme Historical Society

For more photos and information about the beam project, please visit The Beam.

Labor Day Weekend Flea Market

August 30th and 31st, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

   The grounds of the Thomas Lee House Museum will once again be host to a wide variety of vendors,offering antiques, crafts, collectibles and all manner of flea market finds. Be sure to stop by Saturday or Sunday of Labor Day weekend. You never know what treasures you'll find!

   If you would like to be a vendor at our Labor Day Flea Market, you can find an application form here.

Our Mission

The purposes and objectives of the Society shall be:

   1. To engage in educational, archival, research and exploration activities and to support such activities that will increase knowledge of and engender appreciation of the history of the Town of East Lyme and its heritage.

   2. To encourage the preservation and restoration of the town’s historical assets, such as houses, structures, burying grounds, early artifacts and other things associated with the town’s origin and history.

   3. To determine and develop year round historical programs and implementation of same. These programs and activities shall include the period of colonial history and may include all periods of American history and other history.

   4. To cooperate and participate with other organizations for similar purposes and objectives, both within and without the town.

   5. To establish the Thomas Lee House Preservation Committee to ensure the protection and preservation of the Thomas Lee House as an American heritage, wherein books, documents, pictures, furniture, tools, implements, artifacts and other articles associated with the history of the Thomas Lee House and the family are housed.

Celebrating 100 Years of the Thomas Lee House Museum
1914-2014

   The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Thomas Lee house by the East Lyme Historical Society in order to protect and preserve it for future generations. The Society will be recognizing this anniversary with several events over the coming months. As details are confirmed, we will be sure to share them with you. Until then, we will be posting photos of the house as it looked at the time of purchase, and as the needed repair work was undertaken. We will also post some news articles that were written about the house at the time of the purchase. The first few of these can be found on our new page:

100th Anniversary

   In her account of the origins of the Thomas Lee House Museum, given on June 9, 1915, Miss Celeste E. Bush, Secretary of the East Lyme Historical Society, also spoke about the fundraising efforts (reported in The Day, June 10, 1915):

   "The hoped for help came; we applied to the chairman of the old house committee of the Society of Colonial Dames, who recommended us to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Their secretary, Mr. Appleton, came on and saw the house and pronounced it well worth saving. Mr. Seymour of the Society of Colonial Wars, engaged Norman W. Isham, the great authority on colonial houses, to examine and report on the house, and his report being favorable, these three societies gave us $200 each. Other contributions, largely from Lee descendants, brought the sum in hand up to $1,000, which was ready well within our 90 days' option.

   "The $500 in excess of the cost price was so nearly enough for the necessary repairs that it seemed wise to contract a small debt, about $100, which we hope either by our own efforts or the generosity of friends who have not as yet contributed, to meet at an early date. And we are anxious to relay the old well, which has begun to cave in and to build a protecting fence against the destructive forces of the souvenir hunters who dig out the flowers from the lawn.

   "We do not call this begging; we are offering a share in the best we have. We have not saved the old house for ourselves, but for the state, the nation and posterity. We do not welcome you to our house, but to your house.  Here you may come as freely as we to meditate on the quarter-of-a-thousand years in which this house has been contemporary."

   This is an exciting year for the East Lyme Historical Society. To have been able to save such a wonderful building, and to have maintained it in nearly-original condition for 100 years, is an achievement we owe to the support and hard work of our members and the community around us. We look forward to celebrating this remarkable anniversary, and hope that you will join us!

News from Our Neighbors

Norwich Historical Society and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Through Friday, August 29th

The Key to Liberty: The Revolutionary War in the Champlain Valley

   The Norwich Historical Society and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum present an exhibit featuring historical images, maps, and eyewitness accounts of the 1776 Battle of Valcour Island. This exhibit tells the story of Benedict Arnold's fleet that dared to confront the British Royal Navy on Lake Champlain, and explores the role of Arnold, "an American enigma". Attention is also give to the fate of the historic shipwrecks of that fleet. The exhibit can be viewed at the Slater Memorial Museum, 108 Crescent Street, Norwich. For more information, please visit:

Norwich Historical Society


Prudence Crandall Museum

Saturday, August 30th, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

28th Prudence Crandall Day

   The Prudence Crandall Museum will be busy all day, with crafts demonstrations and sales, sales of vintage glass and china, 1830s games, and music by Song-A-Day of Coventry. The day will feature Theater in the Barn, with performances at 11:30 a.m and 2:00 p.m. of "Ray of Hope: Music and Stories of 19th Century African Americans and Abolitiontists" with Alika Hope and Ramon Morant.  Refreshments will be sold by the Friends of Prudence Crandall. Admission is free, and activities will take place rain or shine.  For more information, please visit:

Friends of Prudence Crandall Museum


Smith-Harris House Museum

Saturday, September 6th, 7:00 p.m.

Mary Todd Lincoln: Wife and Widow

   Join the Smith-Harris House Museum as we welcome the return of Mary Todd Lincoln presenter Sally Mummey, with her newest performance, “Mary Todd Lincoln: Wife and Widow.” The presentation will reflect on the period spanning from before the assassin’s bullet that changed the course of Mrs. Lincoln’s life—and that of the nation as well—through the death of her husband and into widowhood. Admission is $10 per person.  For more information, please visit:

Smith-Harris House Museum


Smith-Harris House Museum

Tuesday, October 7th, 6:15 p.m.

A Toast to Our Textiles!

   The Smith-Harris House Commission and Friends of Smith-Harris House invite you to stop by and discover the dynamic changes happening within the House! View our just-installed textiles closet, along with a small display of 19th-century clothes, as well as two newly-designed historic rooms: a sewing room and Thomas Avery’s office. Enjoy sparkling cider and nibbles inspired by historic recipes. At 7:00 p.m., head over to the East Lyme Public Library for their program featuring the textiles and fashions of a century earlier! Admission is free. For more information, please visit:

Smith-Harris House Museum

Your Support is Important!

   The East Lyme Historical Society owns and maintains the Thomas Lee House and Little Boston School House, offers educational programs to the community throughout the year, works to provide access to historical materials through its publications, archives, and website, and is always ready to work with other groups to help foster understanding and appreciation of the history of our town.

   And we do it all as volunteers!

   The generosity of our town and our members is greatly appreciated. Time, energy, and dollars donated are put immediately to work.

   If you are currently a member, THANK YOU! If not, please consider joining us. You may download the Membership Form here, or print the Membership Form page here, and mail either one to us, or you can contact us at:

[email protected]

   Donations are always welcome.

   And please remember: all of our programs are open to the public, free of charge. We welcome your participation!

BUSINESS OWNERS: Become a Business Member of the East Lyme Historical Society for only $50 a year. Members receive a free listing on our Business Directory page, with a link to their own sites, as well as being mentioned in our newsletters. Our website is currently attracting over 700 unique visitors and 10,000 hits each month, from all over the country, and from around the world. Many of them are in the process of planning trips to our area, and would be interested in the services you provide. Local residents will recognize your generosity, as well.

INTERESTED IN BEING A VOLUNTEER? The Society is busy year-round, with a calendar full of events to plan and execute, and a substantial property to maintain. We are always looking for people to get involved. If you have ideas, would like to help organize future activities, or want to be a more active member of the society, let us know. We'd be thrilled to hear from you!

East Lyme Cemetery Listings

   In the fall of 1934, under the auspices of FERA and the WPA, and with support from the Connecticut State Library, the inscriptions of each East Lyme cemetery were copied and included in the Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions.  We have posted the inscriptions, by cemetery, at:

East Lyme Cemetery Records

   Listings for veterans, through the Spanish American War, may be found at:

East Lyme Veteran Burials