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

Labor Day Weekend Flea Market

Saturday and Sunday
September 5th and 6th
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

   Celebrate the end of summer with our final flea market of the season! Check out the wide variety of items offered by our many vendors on the grounds of the Thomas Lee House Museum. You never know what you'll find!

   If you would like to join our vendor roster, you can find the reservation form here.

President's Message

   I am pleased to report preservation work to the Lee House being completed at the time of this writing.

   In an effort to strengthen the structure and reduce the moisture in the cellar, we have done the following:

   1. Added collar ties in the attic

   2. Replaced five supporting posts and placed new cedar posts on concrete footings in the cellar

   3. After an archaeological dig by Rod McCauley, installed plastic sheeting over the dirt cellar floor and covered with pea stone

   4. Installed two drainage pipes at northeast and northwest corner downspouts of the house, leading water fifteen feet away into dry wells

   5. Installed new, better designed, lightweight cedar double doors for the exterior hatchway, enabling easy opening to help with ventilation when we are on site for any length of time

   6. Installed ventilation holes on the side of the hatchway structure

   7. Installed a fourth cellar screen window in the rear of the house

   8. Installed new 20" x 20" external window framing on the east side of the house

   9. Repaired fallen tree damage to the outhouse roof and rebuilt the stone foundation

   10. Applied Bora-care on all accessible bare wood as an insect repellent

   11. Applied epoxy preservative measures to certain soft end grain window framing sections

   During this process, it was noted that there were three locations where the roof was leaking, prompting the request of two quotes for roof replacement. It appears that we will need to do this project sooner than expected.

   With the above work done, along with nearby tree cutting and preservative applied, the Lee House should be well set for the foreseeable future.

Norman B. Peck III

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

Deep River Historical Society

Second and fourth Saturdays through September, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Historic Waterfront Tours

   Deep River's commercial connection to the rest of the world started at the end of Kirtland and River Streets in the early 1800's.  What is now known as the Town Landing, was a shipyard and dock which, collectively, were the linchpin to Deep River's mercantile success.  The shipbuilding provided the vessels and the dock provided the point of delivery of raw materials and the shipment of end products, that made Deep River an economic success. A lecture and tour of Deep River's Historic Waterfront, sponsored by the Deep River Historical Society, will start at the home of sea captain and ship builder, Calvin Williams, at 131 Kirtland Street, immediately left of the Mt. Saint John entrance pillars.  Tickets for the tour are $20 per family, $10 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens. Reservations are recommended and tickets may be acquired at the door or in advance. 100% of all donations will benefit the Deep River Historical Society. For more information, please visit:

Deep River Historical Society

Friends of Prudence Crandall Museum

Saturday, August 1st, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Music Twilight

   Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum present their annual Music At Twilight, with the duo of Judy Handler and Mark Levesque.  The concert will take place on the lawn of the museum; rain site is the Canterbury Community Center. Admission is free, and donations are always welcome. Sponsored in part by a grant from the Town of Canterbury. For more information, please visit:

Friends of Prudence Crandall 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!