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Sill Lane Green

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Old Lyme was originally part of Saybrook when the latter was founded in 1635. In 1665 it became an independent plantation and two years later its name was changed from East Saybrook to Lyme. Old Lyme was formed in 1867 when a 26.4 mile area along the shore separated from the rest of Lyme. Lyme's favorable location on Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Connecticut River, where inexpensive water-borne transportation was available, brought greater wealth to its citizens than would normally be expected in a small community, as reflected by the wide streets bordered by large lots with substantial, well-preserved houses.

Sill Lane Green is located at the northern end of Lyme Street, the main thoroughfare of Old Lyme, where the original founders of Lyme and their descendants have lived for two and a half centuries. However, Sill Lane Green is not the primary green, nor is it considered to be a green by all the townspeople. The primary green, Old Lyme Green, existed at the southern end of Lyme Street at the corner of Shore Road.

(The present church near Old Lyme Green is the fifth church built by the Ecclesiastical Society and a replica of the previous church on the site which was built in 1816-1817. The first three churches were not built near the green but on Meeting House Hill. However, the green predates relocation of the church from Meeting House Hill. According to one source, the green was the focus of civic life from "the earliest of times." It is where the militia trained and it has strong associations with the Revolutionary War. The stocks and whipping post were also located in the area. Presently, however, the green no longer exists as town property. It is the property of the owners of the Marvin-Griffin House to the south. In addition, it is not maintained or used as a green, nor is it recognized as such by many of the people in the community. It exists as a triangular-shaped open space with a narrow crescent-shaped dirt road providing access to the properties bordering it. Boundaries are marked by a white picket fence on the west, a black iron fence on the south, and dense undergrowth on the east.)

At the north end of Lyme Street at the intersection of Sill Lane and the Boston Post Road is Peck Tavern, one of the oldest surviving dwellings of Old Lyme. Built by Joseph Peck in the second half of the 17th century, it was used for some time as a tavern, and during the Revolutionary War served as a distribution point for food and clothing to passing soldiers. No doubt some of this activity took place on the triangulated plot in front of (south of) the tavern bounded by Sill Lane and the Boston Post Road, known today by some as Sill Lane Green. Historically, there is mention of a watering trough on the green.

The Boston Post Road was formally laid out in the third quarter of the 17th century and used as a postal route as demonstrated by the Franklin Milestone still located on the green. The inscription "14 miles to N. L." is difficult to discern. Thus, Old Lyme's remaining plot of land in the public hands, considered to be the town green by some of the townspeople, exists by virtue of its location at what once was an important intersection of the Boston Post Road, once the main route for stagecoaches traveling between Boston and New York.

Sill Lane Green dates from the second half of the 17th century and is an example of a green that developed by virtue of its location at an important intersection, rather than one that was officially set aside by the town as common property.

 

 
 

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