Old Lyme is a community of some 8000 permanent residents and an additional several thousand seasonal visitors who occupy a shoreline complex of summer residences. Located on the east bank of the mouth of the Connecticut River where it meets Long Island Sound, the town is marked by independence, volunteering, and a long-standing commitment to the arts. Fine examples of Colonial and Federal architecture line our main streets and winding country roads.
Old Lyme was set off from Saybrook, which is on the west bank of the river mouth, on February 13, 1665. Old Lyme occupies about 27 square miles of shoreline, tidal marsh, inland wetlands and forested hills. Our neighbor to the north is the Town of Lyme; to the east, East Lyme.
Our town hosts a number of small service businesses and a growing number of high technology design and production companies. We have become a bedroom community for people who work in New London, Groton, New Haven, Hartford, and even outside Connecticut. Many residents work at General Dynamics Electric Boat and Pfizer, Inc., or with numerous spin-off businesses associated with the U.S. Navy.
The 14 weeks of summer bring seasonal residents and visitors to more than double our year-round population. The town’s famous public beach on Long Island Sound is Sound View. Old Lyme is also home to a lakefront park (Rogers Lake at Hains Park), and several smaller parks and boat landings on the Connecticut River and tidal estuaries.
The town is part of the Lyme-Old Lyme Regional District #18, which consists of three elementary schools, a middle school, and high school. The town is also home to the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, an accredited college which draws on the roots of the town as a center for Barbizon and, later, American Impressionism painting at the turn of the century.
Miss Florence Griswold first opened her doors in 1899 to a group of artists known as the Lyme Art Colony: Childe Hassam, Henry Ward Ranger, Willard Metcalf and others. Today, the Florence Griswold Museum’s doors are open to the public for a wide range of educational programs and nationally recognized exhibitions.
Our community has a strong commitment to volunteering, evidenced by dedicated fire and ambulance departments, Friends of the Library, town boards and commissions, and community organizations such as High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, the Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau, Lyme Art Association, Lyme Historical Society, Chamber of Commerce, Lyme Art Association, active Girl and Boy Scout programs; the Masons, Lions, Junior Women, and garden clubs, among others. Memorials in the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall pay tribute to residents who served in the armed forces during two World Wars and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
The year 2000 was a banner year for Old Lyme. The Roger Tory Peterson Wildlife Area at Great Island was dedicated in honor of the late naturalist/artist. Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, sculptor and founder of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, was a recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award in 2000. And our Lyme/Old Lyme Little League Team won the State championship and came within one game of capturing the New England title.
Old Lyme’s new Town Seal, designed in 2000 by Old Lyme resident and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts student Catherine Christiano, pays tribute to the characteristics that make Old Lyme unique: the influence of Roger Tory Peterson is represented by an osprey; our history as both a sea captains’ hometown and an artist colony are represented by a sailing ship and a palette.