Old Lyme Historic District

View of Lyme Street showing Grisworld Stores, former Town Hall and Catholic Church; Source- NRIS 71000916.
Historic/Common Name:
Old Lyme National Register Historic District
Old Lyme »
Year of Establishment:
Historic Designation:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Nature of Authority:
District Character:
Town Center
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
General description:

Old Lyme was settled in 1647 or 1648 and until 1857 was known as Lyme. The Old Lyme Historic District runs the length of the town's main street, known as Lyme Street, and a very short distance along the Old Boston Post Road, a total of approximately a mile and a half. At the southerly end, facing the street, is a distinguished Greek Revival residence, the Marvin-Griffin House. Diagonally across is the McCurdy House, a fascinating composite structure built in 1754, where both Washington and Lafayette were guests. At the northerly end where Lyme Street divides into Sill Lane and the Old Boston Post Road is a modern house in the Colonial style. On the westerly or Sill Lane side is a handsome modified Greek Revival house of 1858. From the 1700's through the mid-19th century, sea captains, shipbuilders, and merchants built houses along Lyme Street, many of which are among the finest in Connecticut as well as in Old Lyme. Fire and time have taken their toll but many houses still remain, and as civic needs grew, new buildings were accommodated in a homogeneous manner. The World War I Memorial Town Hall (1920) is next to the historic Justin Smith House of the early 1700's. The Phoebe Noyes Griffin Library, built in the Carnegie style of the 1890's on the corner of Library Lane and Lyme Street, is opposite the 1790 Maxon House. The Elementary School, diagonally across from the Town Hall, built in 1934 of fieldstone, brick, and wood trim, blends harmoniously with old structures. [NR]

Significance of the district:

Architecture, Art:Old Lyme is situated at the mouth of the Connecticut River on Long Island Sound, giving it a unique setting with a long and varied shoreline, many tidal marshes, and extensive pen land. These very attractions threaten the town with incongruous development. Within the established historic district of Old Lyme, the main street has retained many agreeable characteristics now difficult to find even in historic New England. Nevertheless, the pressures for change in an age when decisions are made without careful evaluation are increasing.

The Old Lyme Historic District shows a remarkable continuity from village life of the earliest pre-Revolutionary years to the present day. It is a compact area of 71 structures within which architectural growth is reflected in a wide range of historical needs.

Adjacent to the man-made setting of the district is the still unspoiled Lieutenant River. For two centuries a center of shipbuilding, it figures prominently in the history of the town. Today the river's tidal marshes remain a haven for birds, fish, and wildlife. The Old Lyme Conservation Trust, Inc., founded in 1966, is acquiring wetlands of its marshes for their protection. Many of the properties in the Old Lyme Historic District extend from Lyme Street to the river. Preservation of the center of Old Lyme complements the existing conservation program. [NR]

District Boundary:

Historic District No. 1 is situated in the center of Town and is located on both sides of the main street, known as "Lyme Street," and its boundaries are defined as follows: The easterly and westerly boundaries of the District are shall:(a) A line drawn 300 feet easterly or westerly, as the case may be, from the center line of Lyme Street; or(b) In respect to parcels of land contiguous to Lyme Street; or that boundary of such parcels which is most distant from the center line of Lyme Street, whichever shall be closer to said center line. The northerly boundary of the District shall be a line drawn from the easterly boundary to the westerly boundary along the southerly line of Rose Lane, along the easterly line of the Boston Post Road, to a point opposite the southerly line of the small Town green at the junction of Sill Lane and the Boston Post Road, along the southerly line of the Town green and across Sill Lane to the southerly boundary of the District.The southerly boundary of the District shall be a line drawn from the easterly boundary to the westerly boundary 300 feet from the foot of Lyme Street through land now or formerly of Barney. [1]




Agriculture, Education, Government, Museum, Residential, Religious

Architectural Style:

Colonial, Greek Revival, Carnegie Style, Renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis 'Country Cottage' Style.

18th Century, 19th Century

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/Pages/OldLymeCT_WebDocs/government.
[2] Old Lyme Historic District, Handbook of the Historic District Commission, 1992, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Link to the historic district ordinance- http://www.ecode360.com/8840510.
[4] Assessors information and Parcel IDs retrieved from the website http://data.visionappraisal.com/OldlymeCT/search.asp.
[NR] Brown Mrs. John Crosby, Old Lyme Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 71000916 NRIS, National Park Service, 1971 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/71000916.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/71000916.pdf.


The Old Lyme local historic district and the Old Lyme National Register historic district are coterminous.


Map of the historic district obtained from the handbook of the Historic District Commission, SHPO Library, Hartford.

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The street addresses of the designated properties have been obtained from the Old Lyme Historic District National Register nomination form, 1971, SHPO Library, Hartford. For further information on the district, the user is urged to contact the respective Historic District Commission.

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation