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

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

2015 Lecture Series

Sunday, February 8th, 2:00 p.m.

Marty Podskoch with Carl Stamm
The Civilian Conservation Corps and East Lyme's Stone's Ranch

   In recognition of the 82nd anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Marty Podskoch will discuss the history of the CCC, including its East Lyme camp in the Stone Ranch vicinity. Local resident Carl Stamm will share his memories and experiences.

   This program will be held at the Niantic Community Church, 170 Pennsylvania Avenue, Niantic, in the lower level meeting room. Parking is on-site and admission is free. Donations gratefully accepted.

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.

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

   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.

   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

Loving Parting: Commemorating 350 Years

   In 1631,Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick, gave to several friends a deed, or patent, granting them lands at the mouth of the Connecticut River. These friends included Viscount Saye and Seal, Lord Brook and Colonel George Fenwick. These worthies chose John Winthrop the Younger as governor of the territory and hired Lion Gardiner to build a fort and lay out a town, which he did in 1635. When Governor Winthrop arrived, he named the town Saybrook, in honor of Viscount Saye and Seale and Lord Brook.

   In 1637, George Fenwick, the only patentee to come to the colony, became governor. In 1648 outlying areas were divided into quarters to be granted to prospective settlers. The third quarter, on the east side of the river included today’s Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme and part of Salem. When the settlers on the east side of the river had reached “a competency of land to entertain thurty familyes” they petitioned the Connecticut General Court for permission to call their own minister and to establish their own town. A minister, a young man named Moses Noyes, was located in Massachusetts and permission was granted to establish a new town covering the area described above. To complete the process, an agreement was signed by representatives from both sides of the river on February 13, 1665 in an event known as “The Loving Parting” due to the amicable nature of the affair. The name Lyme was attached to this new town in 1667, the name coming from the community of Lyme Regis in England, a town to which some of the settlers had ties.

   Signers for the east side were: Matthew Griswold, William Waller, Reynold Marvin, John Lay Sr., Richard Smith and John Comstock.  For the west side, signers were: John Westall, William Pratt, Robert Lay, William Parker and Zackariah Sanford.

   The historical groups from Saybrook, Lyme, Old Lyme, East Lyme and Salem are working together to commemorate this event.  As more information becomes available, we will post it here. You may also learn more about upcoming events at each of their websites:

Old Saybrook Historical Society

Lyme Public Hall

Old Lyme Historical Society

Salem Historical Society

The Loving Parting

   Whereas, in 1631, the English Earl of Warwick granted an extensive tract of land in the Connecticut River Valley to Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Brooke and several others; and

   Whereas, this land, extending north on both the east and west sides of the Connecticut River became the Saybrook Colony, one of the earliest settlements in New England; and

   Whereas, in 1644, the Saybrook Colony was incorporated into the Connecticut Colony by the order of the Connecticut General Court in Hartford; and

   Whereas, in 1663, the Saybrook Colony requested the Connecticut General Court to set up a plantation on the east side of the great River, known as East Saybrook; and

   Whereas, on February 13, 1665, representatives of the settlers from both sides of the river signed an agreement known as The Loving Parting, making East Saybrook a self-supporting community, separate from the Saybrook Colony; and

   Whereas in 1667, the Connecticut General Court assigned the name "Lyme" to the new community.


In recognition of the 350th Anniversary of the signing of the "Loving Parting" and of the shared history of the Saybrook Colony with the present towns of Old Saybrook, Lyme, Old Lyme, East Lyme and Salem, February 13, 2015 is hereby proclaimed
"Loving Parting Day"

Carl Fortuna, First Selectman, Old Lyme

Bonnie Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman, Old Lyme

Ralph Eno, First Selectman, Lyme

Kevin T. Lyden, First Selectman, Salem

Mark Nickerson, First Selectman, East Lyme

East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson signs the Proclamation on January 7, 2015
East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson signs the Proclamation
January 7, 2015
News From Our Neighbors

Mystic River Historical Society

Wednesday, January 28th, 7:30 p.m.

The History of the Submarine Base, New London

   Capt. Carl Lahti, Submarine Base Commanding Officer, will highlight the establishment of the installation following the Civil War and the state and local efforts that helped bring it to fruition. Although it has always been in Groton, it was originally called the New London Navy Yard and Coaling Station. Its role shifted in 1916 when it was designated the country’s first submarine base. Captain Lahti will discuss the growth of the base through the two World Wars and the Cold War, as well as its present function. This program is open to the public, with a suggested donation of $5, It will be held at the Mystic Congregational Church's hall on Broadway Street, Mystic. For more information, please visit:

Haddam Historical Society

Sunday, February 1st, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Winter Woolies Knitting Bee

   Enjoy a “historic” Sunday afternoon in the early 19th century kitchen of the Thankful Arnold House Museum, 14 Hayden Hill Road, Haddam, to work on your unfinished knitting or needlework project. Join knitting master Beth Hartke and enjoy the company of others with NO modern day intrusions. Share knitting knowledge, patterns and stories. Registration is required, since space is limited. Admission is free.  Light refreshments will be offered. For more information, please visit:

Haddam Historical Society

Mystic River Historical Society

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!