June 9, 1915 marked the start of a new lease on life for the Thomas Lee House in East Lyme, which has the distinction of being the oldest extant wood-framed building in Connecticut. Amid a flurry of pilgrim’s pride and pomp and circumstance, even a former President came to help dedicate the opening of this recently saved and fully restored 17th-century colonial house to the public.
One of the more remarkable features of the Thomas Lee House — besides the fact that it has survived intact for over 350 years — is its well-documented provenance. Originally built as a simple, one-room house circa 1660, the home underwent multiple expansions over the next few decades to accommodate Lee, his wife and their 15 children. For nearly 200 years, the house and its adjacent property was passed down from generation to generation within the Lee family. Then, however, with the structure in a serious state of decline, it was sold out of the family to a farmer who used the first floor of the house as a hay barn and chicken coop.
The Thomas Lee House now serves as the home of the East Lyme Historical Society, and remains open to the public as both the state’s oldest wood-framed house and a museum.
“A Connecticut Home that Dates Back to the 1600s,” connecticuthistory.org
“Thomas Lee House and Museum,” East Lyme Historical Society