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.  You may contact the museum by phone at 860.739.0761 or email at [email protected].

   The Smith-Harris House Museum opens to visitors in June for the summer season. It will be open Friday through Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m., through August. (Closed July 4th weekend.) Tours are every hour on the half-hour, starting at 12:30 p.m.; last tour at 3:30 p.m.  A 45 minute guided tour of the farmhouse demonstrates the family and agricultrual lives of the Avery, Smith, and Harris families through the 1840s and into the mid-20th century. Discover what East Lyme was like around the time of the Civil War and afterwards. Suggested donation of $5.

   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

It's Flea Market Season!

   The East Lyme Historical Society will kick off Flea Market season on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 23rd and 24th, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the grounds of the Thomas Lee House Musuem, 228 West Main Street, Niantic. Vendors from throughout the state will be bringing their collectibles, antiques and crafts, so be sure to stop by and see what they have. Don't forget: we will also be hosting Flea Markets on Fourth of July weekend, July 4th and 5th, and Labor Day Weekend, September 5th and 6th.

   If you are interested in participating in any or all of the Flea Markets as a vendor, please contact Betty Murphy at [email protected] for more information.

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

News from Our Neighbors

Cromwell Historical Society

Monday, May 18th, 7:00 p.m.

The Metabaseks and the Indigenous Communities of Connecticut

   Dr. Lucianne Lavin, Director of Research and Collections at the Institute for American Indian Studies, will discuss the indigenous population of Connecticut, and sign copies of her book, Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History and Oral Traditions Teach Us About Their Communities and Cultures. Arch Room, Cromwell Town Hall, 41 West Street, Cromwell. For more information, please visit:

Cromwell Historical Society

Waterford Public Library

Tuesday, May 19th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Lighthouses Off of New London

   Susan Tamulevich, director of the Custom House Maritime Museum, will discuss the lighthouses in our area. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that you can see more lighthouses from the lantern of New London Harbor Light than from any other place on earth. A question and answer period will follow the formal presentation. 49 Rope Ferry Road, Waterford. For more information, please visit:

Waterford Public Library

Deep River Public Library

Wednesday, May 20th, 6:30 p.m.

Our Connecticut River: From Sea to Source

   Connecticut State Historian Kelvin W. Cole will present a fully-illustrated overview of the Connecticut River and its value to those who settled and worked along its banks. 150 Main Street, Deep River. For more information, please visit:

Deep River Public Library

Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archaeology Center

Saturday, May 30th, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Cedar Hill Cemetery: Lest We Forget–Infectious Diseases from 1850-1918

   Cholera infantum, the bloody flux, ague, putrid fever, filth disease, consumption – and the treatments that sometimes sounded just as terrifying. Join Evelyn Bollert, Program Volunteer for the Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation, who will lead a walking tour that explores the fearsome infectious diseases that afflicted Cedar Hill families as germ theory slowly supplanted the miasmas theory of disease. Advance registration required: $15 ($10 for Members and Donors). Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford. For more information, please visit:

Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and Connecticut Archaeology Center

Smith-Harris House Museum

Wednesday, June 10th, 7:00 p.m.

Novel History: The Civil War in Literature

   Join the Smith-Harris House and the East Lyme Public Library as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. We'll take a detailed, chronological look at how the Civil War has been portrayed in American literature since the 19th-century, and how these books both represented current historical scholarship and impacted the literary landscape. Meet authors and guest lecturers, enjoy a special tour of the Smith-Harris House, and participate in discussions about great books. Free, with refreshments provided.

   In June, the discussion will cover Native Guard (2006) by Natasha Trethewey. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, Trethewey's breathtaking collection reflects her relationship with her mother, whose marriage to a white man was illegal in Mississippi in the 1960s. Trethewey also gives voice to forgotten African American soldiers who served the Union in the Louisiana Native Guard in this haunting conversation between personal experience and national history. Independent poet and scholar Kate Rushin will lead this discussion. No previous experience in poetry necessary! Smith-Harris House Barn, 33 Society Road, Niantic. For more information, please visit:

The 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!