District Overview Inventory List District Map

Old Lyme Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Old Lyme
Year of Establishment:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Town Center


Architectural Style:

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

18th Century, 19th Century

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]

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]

[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.

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