Connecticut Open House Day
Saturday, June 8th, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The East Lyme Historical Society will participate in the ninth annual Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 8th, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. This statewide event supported by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism is designed to broaden awareness of Connecticut’s cultural assets and encourage visitors to become ambassadors who share newfound discoveries with family and friends.
Activities at the Thomas Lee House Museum will include tours of the House and the Little Boston School House, demonstrations by members of the Quoketaug Rangers, including musket firing and hatchet throwing, and guidance in starting research into your own family history. The ever popular oxen team from Cranberry Meadow Farm, Rock and Roll, will be joined by an assortment of farm animals, including sheep, cows, chickens, and a draft horse. Demonstrations of colonial crafts such as woodworking, candlemaking and butter churning, will take place throughout the day. The Gift Store in the Barn will be open, with a variety of items to remind you of a special day spent at the Lee House.
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.
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.
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:
Furniture For Sale
A generous donor has given the Society a selection of quality used furniture for the purpose of being re-sold to raise money for ongoing improvements to the Thomas Lee House. The furniture pieces are casual contemporary in style and are in very good to excellent, slightly used condition. Most were purchased in the late 1990’s from the Saybrook Country Barn in Old Saybrook. Ct. Included are two round glass-topped rattan tables and nine individual matching arm chairs, a traditional breakfront dining room buffet table, two wooden upholstered arm chairs, a small square pedestal dining table (no chairs), a large round wood coffee table with drawers, two large square lamp/end tables with drawer and, of lesser condition, ten vintage bentwood pub style chairs. Anyone with an interest in these items can contact Board member Jerry Boyle at [email protected]. He will be happy to provide you with pictures of the items, measurements and additional information. All items are in storage in East Lyme and are easily available for inspection. If you are interested in any of these items, it is suggested that you quickly contact Jerry, as these items will soon go to consignment. All funds raised will be put toward current and future upkeep of the Lee property.
Flea Market Season is Here!
We will be having three Flea Market weekends this year: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. There will be more information soon, but if you are interested in being a vendor at the first event, you are welcome to download and mail in a
News from Our Neighbors
Connecticut State Museum of Natural History
Saturday, May 25th, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Birds of Bafflin Sanctuary
Join naturalist and science educator Paula Coughlin for a morning walk through the grasslands, forests, and wetlands of Bafflin Sanctuary to observe breeding birds singing, nesting, and raising their chicks. Bring binoculars and a water bottle, and dress for protection from ticks. Adult and child-sized binoculars will be available for loan during this family friendly activity. Participants are welcome to explore the sanctuary on their own after the program. Presented by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UConn. The Sanctuary is located in Pomfret, and directions will be sent to participants. Advance registration required: $20 ($15 for Museum members). The program is for adults and children ages 5 and above; children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please visit:
Friends of Fort Trumbull
Thursday, May 30th, 7:00 p.m.
The Burning of Essex in the War of 1812
In 1814, the British may have burned their ships and destroyed their rum, but they did not demoralize the Connecticut River town of Essex. Although most people don’t know the details of Connecticut’s role in the War of 1812, Jerry Roberts, the Director of the Connecticut River Museum, has vowed to change that deficiency. On April 7, 1814, one of the greatest shipping losses of the war occurred as the British, stealthily rowing up the Connecticut River, attacked Essex. Although many people believed that the people of Essex gave up without a fight, Mr. Roberts has been working to show what really happened. Using new research from the Essex Historical Society, Mr. Roberts hopes to show that the Americans, despite overwhelming odds, fought bravely. The previous views, which rested upon legend and folklore, also indicated that there was an American traitor who collaborated with the enemy. Roberts hopes to demonstrate that this belief was also erroneous. The presentation will take place in the Conference Center at Fort Trumbull. The lecture is open to the public and new members are always welcome. Seating is limited. For more information, please visit:
Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum
Saturday, June 8th, 1:30 p.m.
Connecting Prudence Crandall
Historian Peter P. Hinks will speak on the subject Connecting Prudence Crandall: Antislavery and Black Education in Eastern Connecticut from Colchester’s Bacon Academy to David Walker’s Boston. This lecture is the second in the Spring Lecture Series, a new venture for Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum, Inc., sponsored in part by CT Humanities as well as by Savings Institute Bank and Trust. It is hoped that next spring, the connection between Canterbury, Prudence Crandall, and the activities of abolition and education can continue to be explored. The lectures take place at the First Congregational Church, 6 South Canterbury Road, Canterbury, across the road from the Prudence Crandall Museum. The lecture will be followed by discussion and a reception at the John Carter House at 5 South Canterbury Road, next to the museum and part of the museum complex. Ticket price is $6.00 and includes admission to the Prudence Crandall Museum. For more information,please visit:
A Special Gift to the Society
In February, the East Lyme Historical Society received a gift from Ruth Crowe of Glendora, California. She sent us nine spoons that had belonged to her late husband’s grandmother, Margaret Ellen Lee (b. 1845). Margaret was the daughter of John Lee and Mary Littlefield Sheffield. John was of the 7th generation of Lee (John7, John Murdock6, Elisha5, Elisha4, Thomas3, Thomas2, Thomas1). The spoons were the property of Mary, and are engraved with the initials MLS. Mrs. Crowe also sent us a daguerreotype of Margaret Ellen. Mrs. Crowe and her family thought it best that the spoons and photo should be returned home. We are extremely grateful for this generous gift.
What makes this donation even more special is that we already have a daguerreotype of Margaret Ellen’s sister, Mary Frances (b. 1838). We look forward to displaying them at our Open House on June 8th and throughout the summer. We will also display other items that were donated with the picture of Mary Frances.
For the last two years, a 25 foot hand-hewn beam, cut by our friend Greg Bill of Lyme, CT, has been behind the barn next to the Thomas Lee House, drying and weathering in prepartion for its installation in the second floor East room of the house, to replace the original, but badly deteriorating, beam.
Due to the unusually moist weather this past year or two, the beam has acquired the appearance we were hoping for. It has now been moved to a barn, where it is shimmed, on blocks and out of the weather. It will continue to season until we are ready to replace the bad beam, planned for 2013.
We anticipate this will cost between $18,000 and $22,000. Our beam fund continues to grow, but slowly. We have a litle over $3000 dollars in actual beam donations thanks to a recent $500 donation, plus another $5000 from the Kalal grant.
We are offering you this exciting opportunity to become a permanent part of the Lee House. In return for a $20 donation, we will inscribe your name, or the name of a loved one, on a copper plate. The plates will then be attached to the smooth side of the beam, where they will remain invisible to visitors, but will serve as a time capsule should the beam ever be removed. Along with the plates will be a brief account of the project, and how the money was raised for it. The beam is huge and we have plenty of room for more tags (hundreds more).
Why not think of relatives and loved ones who would like to be a part of the history of the Thomas Lee House by having their name inscribed on one of the largest time capsule projects in New England? This will not be opened or seen again until the house needs to be repaired again (probably in at least 200 years).
Won’t you join us in this project, and buy a little piece of posterity? The more support we get from our members and friends, the greater our chances of getting matching grants, and the sooner we can install the beam. These plates are a wonderful way to honor a family member or to share your love of history with future generations.
All you have to do is send a check for $20, payable to the East Lyme Historical Society, to:
East Lyme Historical Society
c/o A. Burt Hobby
PO Box 365
East Lyme, CT 06333
Please include the following information:
The name as you would like it to appear.
Your name and address.
Your email address.
For more information, please email: [email protected]
Thank you for supporting our time capsule in a beam!
How YOU Can Help with Preserving East Lyme History
The East Lyme Room at the Public Library on Society Road in East Lyme contains a vast collection of photos and papers of East Lyme history, cared for by members of the East Lyme Historical Society. The Archive Group is always looking for items to add to the East Lyme Historical collections.
You can help document our past and still keep your photos, letters and documents in the possession of your family. Here are some of the items in the archives:
Books of local history,
Photographs of people, homes, and businesses
Diaries, journals and ledgers
Programs and advertisements of past events
Postcards of East Lyme
Any items you have DO NOT have to be given to the Archives.
For more information you may contact a member of the archive group or visit the Archives at the Library. At present the Archives are open on Mondays (when the Library is open) from 10:00 to 12:00 for viewing. Appointments can be made with a group member for other times.
Volunteers are always welcome at the Archive Room! Stop by any Monday the Library is open-we'll be happy to put you to work.
Contact Elizabeth Kuchta at 860.739.6651 or e-mail [email protected] (use "Archives" for the subject) with any questions.
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:
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.