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A Guide to Living in the Old Lyme, CT Art Colony

photo of Old Lyme Art Colony

The town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, was originally part of the Saybrook Colony, before separating in 1665 and taking the name of Lyme in 1667. In 1839, East Lyme left to form a separate town, with Old Lyme following suit in 1855 to give us the area's current configuration.

In the late 1800s, American Impressionist artists started flocking to Old Lyme to live at the Florence Griswold House, which was a nationally famous art colony. Famous painters who lived at the settlement include Willard Metcalf, Wilson Irvine, Childe Hassam, and Edward Charles Volkert, and their presence turned Old Lyme into one of the East Coast's most prominent art communities.

Today, Old Lyme remains a hub for artists, and the Griswold House is now a museum dedicated to the American Impressionist movement.

The town now has about 7,600 permanent residents and is a bustling hub of outdoor activity during the summer, making Old Lyme, CT, an ideal place to consider if you're planning a move to Coastal Connecticut.

Jobs in Old Lyme

If you plan to work in Old Lyme, you will have some options. There is an industrial area off the I-95 on the east end of town that is home to numerous businesses, including the headquarters of Callaway Cars, which is a specialty vehicle manufacturer.

In addition, artists will find plenty of opportunities in Old Lyme, including teaching at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The service industry is another popular option because of the influx of tourists in the summer.

Old Lyme is also only a 20-minute drive from New London and 35 minutes from New Haven, both of which have other vocational opportunities to consider. If you're set on living in Old Lyme, CT, you'll have plenty of locations to find work.

How to Spend Your Time

Once you live in Old Lyme, you'll surely spend countless hours outdoors enjoying the town's beaches and parks.

The main oceanfront area in Old Lyme is Soundview Beach, which sits just off Route 156 near Saltworks Point. The beach has a large parking area across the street and is surrounded by restaurants, so it's a convenient place to spend the day. Keep in mind that some parts of the beach are private.

The other major public beach in Old Lyme is White Sands Beach. This area is located on the southwest end of town and has a small parking lot and some washrooms, but few other amenities. The lack of facilities means that that beach is relatively quiet and a beautiful place to relax.

Since the entire southern part of Old Lyme sits on Long Island Sound, there are other beaches to explore, as well. Most of them are secluded without any facilities but are worth exploring. Just make sure you obey any private property signs that you see, and you can easily spend the day on a private expanse of beach without a care in the world.

Away from the ocean, the Great Island Wildlife Area is popular with kayakers and is a world-class place for birdwatching. There's also Hains Park, which features a beach and boat launch onto Rogers Lake, in addition to basketball courts and two docks. Rogers Lake has outstanding fishing if you're into that sort of thing. If you're looking to spend time outdoors, Old Lyme, Connecticut, has you covered.

Where to Shop and Eat

Although Old Lyme is relatively small, it's surprisingly spread out, and there are two distinct commercial areas.

Lyme Street is the older of the two areas, and it features a vast collection of restaurants and shops to explore. There are numerous art galleries throughout this part of town, too, so if you want to buy some local art to hang in your new home, this is the place to do it.

The Lyme Street area continues west onto Halls Road, as well, which is also home to some shops, including the Old Lyme Shopping Center and the Old Lyme Marketplace.

The other commercial area in Old Lyme is near Soundview Beach. This part of town is home to some restaurants, and there are also shops all the way up Hartford Avenue. This area is generally only busy in the summer, however, with many shops and restaurants closing for the fall and winter. While you'll never confuse Old Lyme for a dining and shopping mecca, you'll have enough choices to keep you happy while living here.

Public Transportation Options

The 9 Town Transit system in Old Lyme is basic, but it gets the job done if you only need to travel between the two major commercial areas or to neighboring communities like New London and Old Saybrook.

There is a park and ride station just off the I-95 near the Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge. From there, the bus stops numerous times on Lyme Street, along with McCurdy Road and Shore Road, before making its way into East Lyme.

You can also take the bus directly to the Old Saybrook Train Station, which provides connections on the Shore Line East railroad or Amtrak.

Getting to Know the School System in Old Lyme

Old Lyme and Lyme share Regional School District 18, although most of the schools are in Old Lyme. Only the Lyme Consolidated School, which is for students in kindergarten through grade five, is located in Lyme.

The schools in Old Lyme include Center School for preschool students, Mile Creek for K-5, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School for grades six through eight, and Lyme-Old Lyme High School for the rest. The district also operates The Virtual High School, allowing students to take courses online.

Buying a Home in Old Lyme, Connecticut

When you choose to buy a home in Old Lyme, Connecticut, you're putting yourself in the heart of a town with a rich artistic history that runs deep to this day. At the same time, the center is a bustling hub of outdoor activity in the summer, featuring magnificent beaches and plenty of hiking and boating opportunities.

Living in Old Lyme means waking up each morning in a town packed with culture while still having modern amenities at your fingertips. Once you buy a house in Old Lyme, you'll immediately feel like you belong.

Published January 13, 2020 in Exploring Our Area, Connecticut Towns and Villages