This Virtual Tour was originally designed by Haroon Samnani, while he was a student at East Lyme High School.

   We have updated and reformatted the Tour to reflect changes in the way the House is presented, and to meet current web standards.  We have retained some of Mr. Samnani's original photos, which are identified as such. The majority of the photos were taken by Elizabeth Kuchta.

   Our thanks to Mr. Samnani and the work that he has done for the East Lyme Historical Society.

   Text has been added to each page to enhance the visitor's understanding of the building's history. Quotations are taken from The Thomas Lee House, East Lyme, Connecticut: A HIstory and Description by Celeste E. Bush and Norman Morrison Isham (identified as "NMI") and from The Thomas Lee House, East Lyme, Connecticut: An Architectural Report by Cary Carson (identified as "CC").

   Built in the fourth quarter of the seventeenth century, (the Lee House) was enlarged, then refenestrated, later remodeled and enlarged again, and in the nineteenth century variously altered to provide separate accommodations for a widow and to heat one front room with a stove. Always the builders seem to have been instructed to remove as little as possible, reuse as much as possible, and eschew the prodigal temptation to give utilitarian spaces the trappings of fashion...Benign neglect has left the Lee House one of the two or three best preserved seventeenth-century houses in the region and a remarkable primer of vernacular architecture in New England.

CC

Thomas Lee House Virtual Tour
Thomas Lee House sign
Photo by Haroon Samnani
THE HOUSE OF THOMAS LEE

by

W. F. Newton

This may seem very strange to you;
Indeed it did to me,
That I should after all these years,
Have talked with Thomas Lee.

It was a balmy summer day,
As fair as June could be;
When I strolled where the highway nears
The house of Thomas Lee.

Three hundred years of living there
In sunshine, rain, and sleet,
Have left their imprint on this house
Where past and present meet.

It stands serene, this old landmark,
Fashioned by skillful hands;
The tools have crumbled into dust,
But still the building stands.

And though no tenant met me there
The front door stood ajar
As though no danger lurked without
To warrant bolt or bar.

So calm and quiet was this place,
No time there seemed to be;
And in the shade I sat me down,
Beneath a locust tree.

It may be that I was awake;
It could be that I dozed,
When a figure suddenly appeared,
In doublet black and hose.

What fear I may have felt soon passed
As he stood quiet there;
It seemed to me he looked well pleased,
To see the house so fair.

I felt a wall of silence grow,
And ventured then to speak:
"That roof, it sags quite badly, Sir,
And soon I fear 'twill leak".

He turned and saw me sitting there,
And then he slowly spoke;
"You'll find she has sturdy frame,
I hewed those beams of oak.

"Her front once faced the noonday sun,
A lean-to at the rear,
Where locust trees grew straight and tall,
With well-sweep standing near.

" 'Twas by the well that stands right there
My Betsy passed her word
To Reinold Marvin one spring day;
I'm sure you must have heard."

"The boundary of our kingly grant,
Down there a little way
'Twas there that Governor Winthrop stood
One snowy, stormy day."

"That meadow, there, is where your sires,
Fought a bitter battle,
When rival planters came to reap
Hay to feed their cattle."

"I've travelled far and wide today,
But no prized things I found;
Save only yonder babbling brook,
This house and plot of ground."

" 'Tis well this house should be preserved
As long as time shall last,
The only witness of those deeds
And days forever past".

These thoughts I pondered in my mind,
And took them for my own;
When lo! - a rustle in the grass,
And there I sat alone!

Source: Chendali, Olive Tubbs
East Lyme: Our Town and How It Grew
Mystic, Connecticut: Mystic Publications, 1989.