Lyme Town

Grafton County, New Hampshire

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Lyme Town Hall is located at 1 High Street, Lyme, NH 03768.
Phone: 603‑795‑4639.


Beginnings [1]

The Town of Lyme is located in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, north of the Hanover-Lebanon-White River Junction economic triangle and across the river from Thetford, Vermont. Topographically, Lyme rises from river bottom land in the west to Smarts Mountain's 3,238 feet in the east. Interlaced with hills, brooks and plains, an interesting settlement pattern emerged and has evolved over time.

The Town was chartered on July 8, 1761 to 63 men, two-thirds of whom were from Massachusetts. As required by this charter, the first town plan laid out 50 acre lots east and west of the imaginary West and East Streets. Few people settled on these Division 1 lots. Division 2, laid out along the Connecticut River and Post Pond, contained the best farmland and drew the bulk of settlement. Division 3, with good timber and pasture, was also popular. Division 4 at a higher elevation with steeper slopes contained more marginal land for farming. Division 5 was woodland. Occasional settlements were made in Divisions 4 and 5 chiefly on Mt. Smith Lane, which was a through road to Orfordville, and on Dorchester Road east of its intersection with the Grafton Turnpike.

Development was slow with only 21 families in Town by the fall of 1768. While densely populated villages were common in the early 18th century towns of Massachusetts, there was apparently neither the immediate need or desire for such in Lyme. Lyme Plain's location adjacent to highly productive agricultural land at the crossroads of major east-west and north-south transportation corridors made it a logical choice for early settlement. After the Meetinghouse was built there in 1781, Lyme Plain developed as a population center. Lyme Center Village did not come into existence until 1826 for James Cook, who owned 640 acres there, did not want anyone on his land. So strong were his feelings that he would not allow a school on it nor would he clear the way for his sons to get title to the land on which they were living until his youngest son reached his majority at the age of 21. Lyme Center developed as an industrial center fueled by hydropower from Grant Brook and as a commercial and public service center to surrounding farm families.

Settlers trickled into Lyme during the Revolution. After the War, the influx was so great that the 1790 census listed 175 heads of families. Lyme's population peaked at 1,824 in 1820. Over the next century, Lyme experienced a dramatic population decline. This was spurred by lessening productivity of the hill farm soils and was fed by the lure of fertile land in the West, the rise of manufacturing in Nashua and Manchester and by the decline of the sheep industry. Lyme's population dropped to a low of 830 in 1930.

  1. Town of Lyme, 1982-1985 Master Plan, Chapter II: Historical Sketches,, accessed June, 2011.

Nearby Towns: Orford Town • Thetford Town •

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