Discover Lyme & Old Lyme
Initially, Lyme was a component of the Saybrook (“Saye-Brooke”) settlement centered on the west bank of the mouth of the Connecticut River. It was established by the Earl of Warwick in 1631, occupied in 1635, and settled and named in 1636. The lands on the east bank of the river, named after Lyme Regis in England, were formally set off from the parent colony on February 13, 1665, in a document called “The Loving Parting.” The Connecticut General Court named the new plantation “Lyme” on May 9, 1667.
To the north, the pristine Eight Mile River valley complex — designated a federal Wild and Scenic area — was purchased from a Native American named Chapeto in 1669. Later, the Joshuatown area was purchased from Joshuah, a Native American who was the third son of the Indian Sachem, Uncas.
The original Town of Lyme was set off from the Town of East Lyme in 1839 and, in 1854-1855, was divided into two towns: Old Lyme (initially called “South” Lyme), on the shoreline at the mouth of the river opposite Saybrook; and Lyme, inland on the river opposite Essex and Deep River.
Beginning in the late 1800’s, our towns became famous for a flourishing artists’ community, centered on the emerging “American Impressionism” movement. This tradition has been maintained and expanded over the years by educational and historical institutions such as High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, the Florence Griswold Museum, the Lyme Art Association, the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, as well as numerous, excellent galleries.
The present day Town of Old Lyme has 27 square miles. The year-round population is approximately 7,500, with a summertime increase in six historic “beach colonies” to about 12,000. It has a central commercial district on Hall’s Road, near the Connecticut River’s I-95 Baldwin Bridge, and other centers at Laysville/Rogers Lake on Route 1 (Boston Post Road), and on the Shore Road/Route 156 on the shoreline. Its three industrial zones are focused on the area surrounding Exit 71 off I-95 on the town’s eastern side. The principal municipal and educational center is on historic Lyme Street.
The Town of Lyme retains its rural history, and has a population just over 2,000 within its 30 square miles. Its qualities and characteristics include a number of historically distinct areas. The town has two small commercial centers at Hamburg Cove and Hadlyme; the municipal and educational center is on Hamburg Road, Route 156. Lyme is the home of a celebrated state park, “Gillette Castle,” and the classic summertime Hamburg Fair, and has its own Fourth of July parade which celebrates our local history as well as that of the nation.
For information on the Towns of Lyme or Old Lyme: