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, April 12th, 2:00 p.m.

Willard Reed
"The Granite Industry of Waterford"

   In our final lecture of the season, Willard Reed, teacher and author of The Granite Industry of Waterford will discuss the history of Millstone, Booth Brothers, Flat Rock and other local quarries, their products, and businesses. Mr.Reed's grandfather, Alex Nelson, was one of the last foremen at the Millstone Granite Quarries.

   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 are gratefully accepted.

1660 Thomas Lee House
Thomas Lee House Celebration
100th Year
Preserved by The East Lyme Historical Society

Come celebrate with us the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Lee House to the public.
In 1915 a crowd of 500 people, including former President William Howard Taft, gathered at the House to celebrate its salvation.
Thanks to a handful of ladies with the help of the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, the Society of Colonial Dames, and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.

Cocktail Party
May 9, 2015
Niantic Bay Yacht Club
8 Shore Road, Niantic, CT
5:00-7:00 pm

$45.00 per Person incl. a complimentary drink & hors d’oeuvres
Cash Bar
Special Guests: President & Mrs. William Howard Taft (to arrive in his favorite automobile)

Help us continue to preserve this Historic Treasure, the Thomas Lee House.
Funds to be put toward structural and roof projects planned for the
next 5 years. All donations are tax deductible as the
ELHS is a 501c-3 Non-Profit Organization.

To make reservations or to become a sponsor, please click here.

You can read more about the work done to preserve the Lee House 100 years ago here.

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, April 8th, 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.

   The series begins on April 8th, featuring The Red Badge of Courage (1895) by Stephen Crane.  Deemed an American classic by Ernest Hemingway, this novella offers a psychological study of a young soldier's first experience in battle which still affects readers today with realistic descriptions of emotions felt while under fire. Special tour of the Smith-Harris House with curator Joanie DiMartino. Smith-Harris House Barn. For more information, please visit:

The Smith-Harris House Museum


Cromwell Historical Society

Saturday, April 11th,

Juleps & Viragoes Ball of the Rebellion

   Each year, the Ball of the Rebellion features decorations and scenarios which reflect the events of the corresponding year in the Civil War. This year, we salute 1865, the final year of the war, as public officials began calling for days of "thanksgiving for the recent National victories." In February, a gala was thrown in Hartford to raise money for the building of a home for returning soldiers.  It is from this event that we take our inspiration for this year's ball.

   While many attendees do wear period clothing, modern formal/dress attire is equally welcome. The members of Juleps & Viragoes are happy to answer questions and make suggestions regarding attire. The dancing itself is quite easy to do and is extremely enjoyable!  The members of Terry & Jim Historical Dance "call" the dances, which simply means they tell everyone where to go and what to do (with the utmost politeness, of course.) There is a grand reception during the intermissions which features outstanding, period food. Live, Civil-War era ballroom music is provided by the members of Spare Parts, which specializes in historical dance music.

   With additional diversions inspired by the denouement of the Civil War, the Ball of the Rebellion promises to be the premier event of the 1865 social season! The community room at the Cromwell Town Hall will be converted to a Grand Ballroom for the event.  Tickets are $25 per person ($20 for CHS members). For more information, please visit:

Cromwell 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!