Hadlyme North Historic District
The Hadlyme North Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Hadlyme North Historic District is a small residential community which was founded in the mid-eighteenth century in the southwest corner of East Haddam. It is located just above the Lyme town line about two miles from the Connecticut River. This boundary also marks the line between Middlesex and New London counties. The Hadlyme North Historic District consists of two principal north-south roads, Town Street (Route 82) and Old Town Street which are located on either side and above Hungerford Brook, a small stream which flows through the area. With the exception of two buildings which are located just over the border in Lyme, the Hadlyme North Historic District extends from the northern intersection of these streets to the town border. Banning Road, Day Hill Road (formerly Phelps Road), and Bone Mill Road connect Route 82 to Old Town Street. Of these, only Bone Mill Road continues beyond Old Town Street to the west.
There have been a few changes to the road pattern of the Hadlyme North Historic District. As the names suggest, Old Town Street was the original thoroughfare and the principal street of the community in the 1800s. Town Street was added by the late eighteenth century. According to the map of 1874, there was once a connecting road between Bone Mill Road and Town Street which passed to the west of the present church. At the present time  Old Town Street is not a through street due to the washout of a bridge, but the town plans to rebuild the bridge, as it has the bridge on Bone Mill Road.
The Hadlyme North Historic District consists of 16 houses and their associated outbuildings, three churches, a schoolhouse, and a cemetery, all dating from about 1750 to 1935. All of the buildings are of wood-framed construction, generally set on granite foundations. Several buildings now used as residences originally were built for other purposes. These include the Beckwith House, a former mill, and the house at 5 Banning Road, possibly an old mill building moved there about 1825 and converted to a house. An outbuilding to the rear of 35 Old Town Street has been converted to a house. Only one of the churches remains in use, the Hadlyme Congregational Church. Two chapels were built on Old Town Street by an Episcopal group. The first, built about 1880, was abandoned by the church in 1901 when a new chapel was built just to the north. The old chapel has been used for storage ever since and currently is an outbuilding associated with the Wiltschire Luther House. The newer chapel is currently vacant.
Although Hungerford Brook was not a major source of waterpower for either eighteenth-century mills or nineteenth-century industry, there were several stone structures in the district, including at least two dams. The dams have been reduced to scattered rubble by repeated flooding of the brook but another structure remains. It is an unusual rectangular stone-walled pond to the north of the Beckwith House, on the east bank of a small feeder stream which joins the Hungerford Brook there.
The Congregational Church and the North School, set on either side of Bone Mill Road, are the foci of the Hadlyme North Historic District. The school, a typical wood-framed gable-roofed building with clapboard siding, was built in 1794. The church, the second building on this site, was built in the Greek Revival style in 1840 as a simple pedimented structure with a two-stage square tower. With the exception of the replacement of the stone foundation with concrete block, it has retained its exterior features and materials. The school also still has on the site its original privy set on a permanent granite foundation.
Four of the six houses built in the colonial manner were constructed in the eighteenth century. The oldest, the original parsonage for the Congregational Church, is located on Old Town Street. Originally built about 1750 in a four-room, four-bay plan, it has had several additions over the years, but has retained its central-chimney in the main block which provides flues for five fireplaces. Two gambrel-roofed houses were built on Town Street about 1790. The Comstock House at the south end of the street is a large three-story building with a dormered roof. The Willey House, a smaller one-and-one-half story building, displays an exceptionally fine ashlar foundation of cut granite. The fourth eighteenth-century house, located at the south end of Old Town Street, is a typical two-story, five-bay, center-chimney house set well back from the road with its gable end towards the street. Its associated barn is located to the south of the house just across the town border in Lyme. Another house of this type, also located in Lyme at the foot of Town Street, has an unusual recessed entranceway. The configuration of this entrance suggests that the house may have once served as a store. The last of the colonial forms is the Day House, a saltbox with an integral ell, the only one of its type in the Hadlyme North Historic District. It is located just to the south and below the North School.
All of the five nineteenth-century buildings built as houses in the Hadlyme North Historic District date from after 1850. They include three late Greek Revivals and two rather plain vernacular buildings. The Greek Revivals range from two one-and-one-half story cottages, the Wiltschire Luther House on Old Town Street and the Williams-Tolles House on Town Street, to a typical Greek Revival farmhouse on Town Street, the Almon Day House. The latter house, one of the few historic farmsteads in the Hadlyme North Historic District and the location of an early post office, has several extensive additions to the side and rear and three associated outbuildings.
Four early twentieth-century houses and a store complete the Hadlyme North Historic District. Two of the houses are simple vernacular buildings constructed in the first decade, the Charles Peiser House and the last Congregational Parsonage, a reconstruction of an earlier building on this site that was destroyed by fire. A barn across the street from the former house has a verified original construction date of 1835, although it may have been rebuilt since that time. The last buildings constructed in the historic period of the Hadlyme North Historic District are two compatible Cape-style houses built about 1935.
The Hadlyme North Historic District is architecturally significant as a small exceptionally cohesive, well-preserved rural community containing residential, institutional, agricultural, and industrial buildings dating from about 1750 to 1935.
The Hadlyme North Historic District comprises the original institutional center for the Hadlyme Ecclesiastical Society founded in 1742. This church society was the third established in East Haddam, a town founded in 1685 on the east bank of the Connecticut River (originally part of Haddam on the west bank). It was one of the few such societies to be formed in Connecticut which crossed town boundaries; roughly one-third was located in Lyme. From 1743 until the society was dissolved in 1890, the meeting houses for the society were all located in the district, both built on the same site. The three Congregational parsonages built or owned by the society were all also located there; two are still standing today. The original society cemetery was also established in the district to the north of the church. By the time a schoolhouse was built by the society in 1794, it had become necessary to differentiate between the two villages of Hadlyme, one of which is located in Lyme, and the building was named the Hadlyme North School. The society itself became known as the Hadlyme North Ecclesiastical Society.
Although the village of Hadlyme contained in this district remained the institutional center for a wider area throughout its history, none of the typical village mill sites were established in the colonial period. Grist and saw mills utilized by the village residents were all located on streams to the east, west, and north of the center which had a greater waterpower potential than Hungerford Brook. Few traces are left of the industrial sites of the nineteenth century. The only sites in the Hadlyme North Historic District in the late nineteenth century were a tannery below Bone Mill Road and a cider mill, neither of which require abundant waterpower. A mill site, unidentified by function or type on any of the historic maps, is located on the west side of the district. The only remaining site with any structural remains, it required a substantial millpond to provide enough power to run machinery.
The historic integrity of Hadlyme North Historic District is exceptional. Of the 12 non-contributing buildings, eight are secondary structures which have little impact upon the historic appearance of the village. Only three modern houses have been constructed and most of them are located on the upper part of Town Street. The houses, and in many cases, the barns, are well-preserved, displaying most of their original types of material. Although several houses are individually significant, for the most part they are subordinate players to the institutional buildings at the center of the district.
It is the school and its neighboring church that establish the Hadlyme North Historic District's distinctly rural village character. These two buildings are classics of their types, sparse, functional wood-frame structures which convey the essence of New England's early institutional architecture prior to 1850. Both are exceptionally well-preserved, particularly the school, which has been restored by a local group formed for this purpose.
Several distinguished examples of New England Colonials on Town Street are almost perfect representatives of the gambrel and the saltbox form. Both the Comstock House and its smaller neighbor, the Willey House, are superior examples of the gambrel form; each has exceptional exterior integrity. The Day House, a late example of a saltbox, is also well preserved.
A greater architectural range is found on lower Old Town Street where simple Gothic chapels are interspersed with a Greek Revival cottage, a converted mill, and several old barns. This surprising collection is not as readily accessible to public view since this street is not as well travelled as Town Street, but it adds diversity and historical interest to an otherwise very typical rural streetscape.
Beers, F.W. County Atlas of Middlesex. Connecticut. New York: F.W. Beers & Co., 1874.
Hadlyme Church Records, Vols. 1-4. (On file at the Rathbun Library, East Haddam).
Parker, Francis Hubert. "Contributions to the History of East Haddam, Connecticut," Connecticut Valley Advertiser. Moodus, Conn.: 1914-1927.
Architectural and Historical Survey of East Haddam, Phase I & II, 1977,1979.