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

July 4th Weekednd Flea Market!

Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

   This is it: the biggest and best Flea Market of the summer at the Thomas Lee House! Be sure to stop by 228 West Main Street, Niantic (just down the road from Rocky Neck State Park) to see what our many vendors have to offer. And don't forget the Tag Sale in the Barn, the Historical Society's annual fundraiser. The Lee House will be open for tours, and refreshments will be available for purchase.  Admission is free. Don't miss out!

President's Message
President William Howard Taft, Mrs. Nellie Taft, and Norman B. Peck III
President William Howard Taft, Mrs. Nellie Taft, and Norman B. Peck III

   Thanks to all those who put on and supported our May 9th fundraiser, celebrating 100 years of preservation and public access to the Thomas Lee House.

President and Mrs. Taft arrive by Model T
President and Mrs. Taft arrive by 1915 Model T

   Catered by Pasta Vita with a cash bar run by Divine Wine Emporium, and featuring a special appearance by President William Howard Taft arriving via ca. 1915 Model T with his wife by his side, the evening provided our guests an enjoyable couple of hours.

   A visit and brief speech by Carl Nold, current president of Historic New England of Boston (formerly the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) ended with a surprise donation of $500 to the cause.

President and Mrs. Taft with Carl Nold
President and Mrs. Taft with Carl Nold
President, Historic New England

   The event was sponsored by Randall Realtors, Smith Insurance, Inc., and Martha and Robert Stead, members and Lee descendants from San Diego.

   With Niantic Bay as a back drop the Yacht Club offered a pleasant place for such an event.  We thank them.

   A small committee chaired by Luane Lange with Betty Murphy, Liz Kuchta, Janet Carlson, Bruce and Mary Cathrine Solomkin and Norm Peck were pleased with the results, raising approximately $4,000 for the preservation of the Lee House.

President and Mrs. Taft are greeted by Selectwoman Rose Ann Hardy
President and Mrs. Taft are greeted by East Lyme Selectwoman Rose Ann Hardy

   East Lyme High School's three volunteers from Mrs. Rose Ann Hardy's Contemporary Issues class volunteered to help serve hors d'oeuvres.

   You should know that because of the $830 donations from members toward the "matching funds challenge" the anonymous donor matched it "and then some".

   Many non-members attended, donated and had a good time.

   Other special guests included State Representative Ed Jutilla, State Senator Paul Formica, East Lyme Selectman Mark Nickersen, and Board of Selectmen members Holly Cheeseman and Rose Ann Hardy.

   We hope to see you at the Annual Meeting on June 5th.

Best regards,
Norman B. Peck III
President

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

Smith-Harris House Museum

Wednesday, July 8th, 7:00 p.m.

Novel History: The Civil War in Literature

   The Smith-Harris House Museum and the East Lyme Public Library conclude their observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a discussion of Where I'm Bound (2000) by Allen Ballard. Winner of the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Ballard's tale of a former slave turned cavalry scout is based on a true story.  As Joe Duckett serves his cavalry regiment with distinction and becomes a hero, he embarks on his most dangerous mission yet: to return to the plantation from which he escaped to locate and reunite his family as the war draws to an end. We're excited to host Dr. Allen Ballard, who will discuss his book with our participants via Skype. East Lyme Public Library. Admission is free. For more information, please visit:

The Smith-Harris House Museum


East Lyme Library Archives

Monday, July 27th, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Open House

   If you have ever wondered what is in the East Lyme Room at the Public Library, this is your chance to check it out.  The Archives will have an Open House on Monday, July 27th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Stop by and look at old maps, documents and photographs of East Lyme. Liz Kuchta, East Lyme Town Historian, will be there to give you a tour and answer questions on our Town History. For more information, please visit:

East Lyme Public Library

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!