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.
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:
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!
Sunday, October 19th, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Tour of Momento Mori Cemetery
Join a walking tour of Farmington's ancient burial ground. Learn about the people buried here, the artwork on the stones, and work being done to preserve the headstones. There is a charge of $10.00 per person. For more information, please visit:
Ledyard Historical Society
Sunday, October 19th, 2:00 p.m.
Historical Quests: How New England’s Past Comes Alive in Historical Societies and House Museums
Author and independent scholar Katherine Dimancescu will be speaking as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for Ledyard Historical Society. Ms. Dimancescu’s talk will focus on how history is brought to life for modern day visitors in house museums across Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. She will also talk about the important role town historical societies play in preserving both historical and genealogical records and making this information accessible to the general public. Ms. Dimancescu looks forward to sharing stories of how house museums can inspire curiosity and interest in colonial New England’s past that resonates long after one’s visit is over. She will also touch upon the vital role that small historical societies played in the creation of her book, The Forgotten Chapters: My Journey into the Past. Ms. Dimancescu’s ties to Ledyard date back to the mid-17th century when her ancestors first settled there. This talk takes place at the Bill Library Meeting Room, 718 Colonel Ledyard Highway, Ledyard, CT. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served after the talk. For more information, please visit:
Smith-Harris House Museum
Wednesday, October 29th, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Fiendish Folklore: Spooky Tales from Niantic and Beyond
Come for the treats, stay for the tales! As part of the Town of East Lyme's "Trick or Trunk" Halloween program, the Smith-Harris House Museum will be offering a special program perfect for families and anyone who enjoys folktales. The first floor of the House will be candlelit, and storytellers will share spine-tingling local and regional folktales. The "Trick or Trunk" program, which occurs annually on the grounds of the Smith-Harris House Museum, is a safe Halloween trick-or-treat alternative event sponsored by the East Lyme Youth Services Department of Parks & Recreation. The Fiendish Folklore program is free and open to all ages. For more information, please visit:
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.
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!
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:
Listings for veterans, through the Spanish American War, may be found at: