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East Lyme, Connecticut

East Lyme, Connecticut
Official seal of East Lyme, Connecticut
Location in New London County, Connecticut
Location in New London County, Connecticut
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Norwich-New London
Region Southeastern Connecticut
Incorporated 1839
 • Type Selectman-town meeting
 • First selectman Mark Nickerson (R)
 • Total 42.0 sq mi (108.8 km2)
 • Land 34.0 sq mi (88.1 km2)
 • Water 7.9 sq mi (20.6 km2)
Elevation 210 ft (64 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 19,159
 • Density 460/sq mi (180/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06333, 06357
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-23400
GNIS feature ID 0213426
Website .com.eltownhallwww

East Lyme is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 19,159 at the 2010 census.[1]


  • Geography 1
    • Villages 1.1
      • Niantic 1.1.1
      • Flanders 1.1.2
      • Other minor communities 1.1.3
    • Topography 1.2
  • Demographics 2
  • Schools 3
  • History 4
    • Notable locations 4.1
  • Media 5
    • Library 5.1
    • Radio 5.2
  • Economy 6
  • Beaches 7
    • Public beaches 7.1
    • Private beaches 7.2
  • Notable people 8
    • Notable East Lyme High School graduates 8.1
    • Other notable residents 8.2
  • Cemeteries 9
    • Active 9.1
  • References 10
  • External links 11


East Lyme is located in southern New London County, west of Waterford and Montville, east of Lyme and Old Lyme, and south of Salem. Long Island Sound is to the south. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 42.0 square miles (109 km2), of which 34.0 square miles (88 km2) is land and 7.9 square miles (20 km2), or 18.89%, is water.


The town consists primarily of two villages, Flanders and Niantic. It is common for the town of East Lyme to be erroneously called "Niantic", due to this side of town being the "beach" side which is popular with tourists and visitors in the summer months. Niantic's population doubles in the summer months for the beach season, and it has a much higher density than the more sparsely populated Flanders side of town, which is known for its apple orchards, the town's high school, and forest.


The Morton House Hotel in the village of Niantic has been in continuous operation for more than 100 years.

The village of Niantic gets its name from the Niantic or Nehantic people, whose ranging grounds once extended from Wecapaug Brook, in what is now Rhode Island, to the Connecticut River. Shortly before the first settlers arrived, the Pequots had invaded Nehantic territory and annexed about half of the land claimed by the tribe. According to local historian Olive Tubbs Chendali:

It was the construction of the railroad in 1851 that lured people to the shoreline which up to this time had been known - not as Niantic - but as "The Bank". Long before this time, however, as evidenced by The Diary of Joshua Hempstead - 1711 - 1758 it was known as "Nahantick" "Nyantick" or "Nehantic", the home territory of the Nehantic Indians.[2]

Sportfishing and marinas dominate the village's industry along with summer tourism and restaurant trade. Strong regional businesses include seafood restaurants and hotels/motels serving the town's beaches and the casinos at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Rocky Neck State Park features camping, swimming and picnic areas along with numerous marinas and sportfishing companies.

The Niantic Bay Boardwalk is a popular place for tourists and locals to walk. When it was built it was one mile (1.6 km) long, spanning the length of Niantic Bay. Currently it is closed to public access in two places:

  • At the eastern end due to the Amtrak building of a new railroad bridge across the mouth of the Niantic River, which involves changing the path of the railroad tracks leading up to the new bridge. The boardwalk will be rebuilt by Amtrak as part of the bridge construction program.[3]
  • At the western end due to storm damage caused by Hurricane Irene in October 2011.[4]

The existing Niantic River Bridge is a historic railroad bridge built in 1907 by the King Bridge Company.[5]

The Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is located in East Lyme's original public library on Main Street. The museum is aimed primarily at children ages infant to ten years old. The current public library is located on Society Road, away from Niantic.

The village of Niantic includes the beach communities of Attawan Beach, Black Point, Crescent Beach, Giants Neck Beach, Giants Neck Heights, Oak Grove Beach, Old Black Point, Pine Grove, and Saunder's Point.


The village of Flanders, originally a farming area along the Old Post Road, gets its name from the development of a cottage textile industry similar to that in Flanders, Belgium. Flanders Four Corners is located at the intersection of Chesterfield Road (Route 161) with the Boston Post Road (Route 1) that is the site of many small stores and businesses. Flanders was the original center of the East Society of Lyme until the early 1800s when more development began in the Niantic area. Flanders Four Corners was a very populated roadway with dozens of 18th century homes, shops mostly taken down with the new highway - Interstate 95 built in the 1950s - that stretched from the four corners to the Waterford line. Some homes remain closer to the Waterford line at the site of the old Beckwith Shipyard at the head of the Niantic River.

The old Caulkins Tavern stood at the site of the current CVS and was a well traveled and documented stopping place in the 18th century from none other than Sarah Knight in his diary as well as General George Washington who stopped here with thousands of troops in 1776.

Other minor communities

Golden Spur is a community located at the head of the Niantic River, which earned it its other name, "Head of the River". In the eighteenth century it was the site of the Beckwith shipyard. By the turn of the 20th century it was the site of an amusement park accessible by trolley run by the East Lyme Street Railway. The park operated until 1924.[6]


The topography of East Lyme consists of rolling hills and lush valleys rounded by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Hills rise to elevations of 250 to 350 feet (76 to 107 m) above sea level in the eastern and central areas of the town. The highest point in town is an unnamed hilltop with an elevation of 495 feet (151 m) located in Nehantic State Forest in the northwest corner of the town.[7] East Lyme is especially scenic in the summer when the trees are in bloom. On its east and southern sides, the town abuts tidewater. The tidal Niantic River on the east feeds Niantic Bay, an arm of Long Island Sound, which forms the southern edge of the town.


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 18,118 people, 6,308 households, and 4,535 families residing in the town. The population density was 532.3 people per square mile (205.6/km2). There were 7,459 housing units at an average density of 219.2 per square mile (84.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 87.29% White, 6.37% African American, 0.44% Native American, 2.82% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.59% of the population.

There were 6,308 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.0% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.1% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the town the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 33.4% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $66,539, and the median income for a family was $74,430. Males had a median income of $53,333 versus $37,162 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,765. About 1.7% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 25, 2005[11]
Party Active Voters Inactive Voters Total Voters Percentage
  Democratic 3,004 659 3,663 26.30%
  Republican 2,678 671 3,349 24.05%
  Unaffiliated 5,509 1,407 6,916 49.66%
  Minor Parties 0 0 0 0.0%
Total 11,191 2,737 13,928 100%


The town's public schools are operated by the East Lyme School District.

The school district consists of one high school, East Lyme High School; one middle school, East Lyme Middle School (grades 5-8); and three elementary schools:

  • Flanders Elementary School (grades K-4),
  • Lillie B. Haynes Elementary School (grades preK-4), and
  • Niantic Center School (grades K-4).

The East Lyme High School has been recognized by Newsweek magazine[12] as one of the top 1,000 high schools in the country and by U.S. News & World Report[13] as one of the top 500 high schools in the United States.

East Lyme High School hosts the East Lyme Aquatic & Fitness Center. The center contains an eight-lane, 25-yard-long (23 m), competition swimming and diving pool, and a fitness facility with Nautilus equipment, free weights, and a cardiovascular line. The facility is used by high school swimming and diving teams as well as being open to the public, on a fee basis, when not in use by the school. East Lyme High School athletic teams have recently won the Class L State Championships in girls volleyball for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and reached the Class M State Finals in girls tennis in 2012. Students from the neighboring town of Salem also attend East Lyme High School.

The East Lyme Middle School[14] is a 1999–2000 National Blue Ribbon School and a 2004 New England League of Middle Schools Spotlight School. It is also the Connecticut Association of Schools 2013-2014 School of the Year. It includes a high tech computer lab and a spacious library.

The Middle School uses a team program called kivas. A kiva contains a science teacher, a language arts or English teacher, a social studies teacher and a math teacher. Some kivas are smaller and have a math and science teacher and a language arts and social studies teacher. There are 11 kivas consisting of two types: multi-age looping and two-year looping. The last kiva is a world language kiva where students can study French or Spanish.


Thomas Lee House

The Thomas Lee House, built circa 1660, is the oldest house in Connecticut that is still in its primitive state. This building is located in the southwestern section of East Lyme, adjacent to Rocky Neck State Park, at the intersection of Connecticut Route 156 and Giants Neck Road. Co-located on this site is the one-room Little Boston Schoolhouse, which was relocated to its current location from across Route 156. The town features six homes from 1699 or earlier, and the Old Stone Church Burial Ground from 1719 located off Society and Riverview roads.

The area occupied by the town was originally inhabited by the Nehantic people, who maintained villages in the present-day Indian Woods section as well as on Black Point, in the McCooks Beach area and near the Niantic River. The tribe allied itself with the colonists in the 1636 war against the Pequot people. The Nehantic eventually died out in the mid-19th century. The 1750s Ezra Stiles map shows the Nehantic village in what is now Indian Woods as consisting of "12 or 13 huts".

East Lyme, then a part of Lyme, had several taverns which offered stopping places for travelers such as Sarah Kemble Knight. These included Calkins Tavern on what is now Boston Post Road, Royce's Tavern, and Taber Tavern near present-day I-95. At least 25 Revolutionary War veterans are buried within the borders of East Lyme, and countless more veterans from East Lyme found resting places in upstate New York, New Hampshire and Ohio. Moses Warren, along with General Samuel Holden Parsons originally of Lyme and Moses Cleaveland, set out to survey the Ohio Territory in the latter part of the 1790s and has Warren County, Ohio named after him.[15]

Notable locations



The first library was started in 1888 and was called the Niantic Library and Reading Room Association. There were 65 founding members. In 1897 the library was formally incorporated as "The Niantic Public Library Association" by the state of Connecticut. The library moved a few times until a permanent structure was built in 1920 on Main Street. In 1966 a wing was added, and in 1979 another addition was added. In 1990 the library moved into the new Community Center/Library complex, where it exists today.


FM station WNLC is based in East Lyme.


According to 2009 statistics[16] 42.2 percent of the town's business was focused in the services industry. A service industry is a business that focuses on retail, food services, distribution, and transportation.[17] The second largest sector is the trade industry with 23.1% of the town's business, followed by construction and mining which accounts for 12.5% of the town businesses.

The largest single employer in town is the state of Connecticut's Department of Corrections which runs two prisons in the west end of town: York Correctional Facility for women, which houses over 1,000 inmates and is staffed by over 500 personnel,[18] and the Gates Correctional Institute for men, which houses about 900 inmates and is staffed by 288 people.[19]


Hole-in-the-Wall Beach in Niantic, looking west towards McCook Point

Public beaches

  • Rocky Neck State Park - a state park comprising East Beach and West Beach
  • McCook Park Beach - locally known as "McCooks", located on the western side of McCook Point Park, and immediately adjacent to the private Crescent Beach. This beach, along with its associated public park, was acquired by the town of East Lyme in 1953 from the estate of the McCook Family. This beach is open to the public, on a fee basis, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and is open free of charge during all other times. Access to this beach is controlled via locked gate. The normal park hours are 8:00 a.m. until dusk each day.
  • Hole-in-the-Wall Beach - an approximately 5-acre (2.0 ha) beach that adjoins McCook Point Park. It is open to the public, on a fee basis, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The normal park hours are 8:00 a.m. until dusk. Access is through a walkway underneath railroad tracks used by Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The tunnel is located at the end of Baptist Lane.[20] Free public parking is available, but entrance to the beach is monitored during the summer to ensure people entering have paid for access. It also provides access to the Niantic Beach Boardwalk that was built along the shoreline connecting with Railroad Beach. Known as the Niantic Bay Overlook, it is approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long. The Overlook parallels the north shore of Niantic Bay and runs adjacent to the Northeast Corridor Amtrak line and consists of an elevated boardwalk and a level stone-dust-filled walkway.
  • Railroad Beach - the beach at the eastern end of the Niantic Bay Overlook, locally known as "Railroad Beach" due to its proximity with the Niantic Railroad Drawbridge and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor mainline. Access to this beach is from the Niantic Bay Overlook via Hole-in-the-Wall Beach or from Cini Park via the walkway under the railroad drawbridge. Due to ongoing Amtrak bridge construction the beach is currently not accessible to the public.

Private beaches

  • Crescent Beach - adjacent to McCooks; reserved for homeowners in the area
  • Oak Grove Beach
  • Black Point Beach - for members of the Black Point Beach Club Association
  • Old Black Point Beach - for homeowners in Old Black Point. Members of Old Black Point are not allowed on Black Point Beach, and vice versa.
  • Attawan Beach - adjacent to Black Point; for homeowners in the Attawan Beach Community
  • Giants Neck Beach
  • Giants Neck Heights Beach - for members of the Giants Neck Heights Association. Located at the southeastern end of the Rocky Neck beach. It features a jetty that is popular with local crabbers and amateur photographers - and seagulls who drop clams and mussels on the cement surface to crack them open for eating. Use of this beach is restricted to the approximately 400 homeowners of the Giants Neck Height Association.

Notable people

Notable East Lyme High School graduates

Other notable residents



East Lyme Cemetery
  • East Lyme Cemetery, Boston Post Road
  • Stone Church, intersection of Society and Riverview roads, Niantic
  • Union Cemetery, East Pattagansett Road, Niantic


  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): East Lyme town, New London County, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ Chendali, Olive Tubbs. Stories of East Lyme. (East Lyme: East Lyme Public Library) Pages 13-14
  3. ^ "Niantic River Bridge Replacement Project". Amtrak. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Boardwalk closed in East Lyme". WTNH - News 8. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  5. ^ "Movable Bridges". King Bridge Company Museum. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  6. ^ "Local Landmarks". East Lyme Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  7. ^ U.S. Geological Survey 7.5-minute topographic map series
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  11. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 25, 2005" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  12. ^ "Best High Schools 2008". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  13. ^ "Best High Schools 2008". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Original Surveys of Cleveland". Association of Engineering Societies. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  16. ^ CIRC Town Profile: East Lyme, CT Connecticut Economic Resource Center. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  17. ^ Service Industry definition. Business Retrieved 2011-01-16
  18. ^ York Correctional Institute last modified 2011-01-05.
  19. ^ Gates Correctional Institute last modified 2011-01-05
  20. ^ Hole-in-the-Wall Beach. State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Accessed: 2011-01-16.

External links

  • Town of East Lyme official website
  • East Lyme Public Schools
  • East Lyme Public Library
  • East Lyme Police Department
  • East Lyme Aquatic & Fitness Center
  • Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
  • Smith-Harris House (Thomas Avery House)
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