| Old Lyme |
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| || MEMORIAL TOWN HALL |
52 Lyme Street
Old Lyme, CT
Type: Building with bronze plaques
Architect: Thomas Raymond Bell
Height: Two stories
MEMORIAL TOWN HALL, Old Lyme, is significant historically because it was constructed to be a building "constituting in itself and by appropriate tablets placed therein a monument to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Town who served their Country so well and a Memorial to those brave Sons of Old Lyme who made the supreme sacrifice...." (minutes of special town meeting held on July 21, 1919). The bronze plaques on the lobby wall list names of those who served in the Civil War, World War [I], World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
At the July 21, 1919, special town meeting a resolution was passed approving the plans for erection of a memorial building in honor of soldiers and sailors of the town and expressing appreciation of the offer of the Lyme Art Association to contribute its building fund for the purpose. The building was to be used for art exhibitions and other community purposes as well as for town meetings. A small watercolor hanging in the selectmen's office calls the building the Old Lyme Theater. Apparently, there was some ambiguity regarding the intended use(s) of the building.
A change in plans was recorded several months later by a special town meeting held on December 1, 1919, for the purpose of recognizing the withdrawal of the offer of funds from the Lyme Art Association, with the consequent decision that the new building should not contain an art gallery. About two years later the public notice for the annual town meeting of October 3, 1921, included on the meeting's agenda a resolution to authorize rental of the auditorium in the new MEMORIAL TOWN HALL for the showing of moving pictures, dances, and other social purposes. The building was constructed during the interval between the two meetings, perhaps started in 1920 and completed in 1921. Since the memorial purpose was strongly stated July 21, 1919, it is presumed that memorial plaques were installed in the building from the first.
MEMORIAL TOWN HALL, Old Lyme, is significant architecturally because it is an example of a Colonial Revival-style building of the type popular in the early part of the 20th century. Its small-pane windows, symmetrical mass, and tower with belvedere fit the style's pattern. Nothing is known of the architect, Thomas Raymond Bell, which is the name given on the painting in the selectmen's office. There is some uncertainty whether Bell actually drew the plans; an alternate supposition in the selectmen's office is that the architect was Thomas Roche.
MEMORIAL TOWN HALL, Old Lyme, is located on the east side of Lyme Street, the main thoroughfare of the small coastal town. The school, library, and church are on the same street, but all buildings are spaced well apart from one another, creating the impression of a residential neighborhood rather than a town center.
The town hall is a white two-story gable-roofed rectangular building, 30' x 60', covered with clapboards, its ridge line parallel with the street. Its distinctive feature is a two-story recessed central porch supported by four two-story paneled columns. The small watercolor in the selectmen's office shows the building without the two-story portico. Three doors open into the building at the porch's first floor, under three 12-over-12 windows at the second floor. The flanking projecting sections of the building have 15-over-15 windows at first and second floors. There is a balustrade over the porch and a low square tower on the roof behind the balustrade. The tower has a small belvedere with 6-over-6 windows on each face. A 40' x 49' two-story ell extends to the rear.
In the front lobby, which is a two-story space, the stairway's central flight of seven risers leads to a landing where the stair divides left and right. The wall behind this landing is covered with the memorial bronze plaques and a central pastel. The Civil War plaque at upper left is devoted to five columns of 23 names each, in raised caps. The plaque is plain except for the ogee shape of its top edge. Below the Civil War plaque are names of those who served in the Korean Conflict. In the center, below the pastel, is a larger plaque of World War II names. At the right at the top is the World War [I] tablet, while below it are names of the Vietnam Era. All plaques are of the same design and appearance, except for that devoted to World War II. Since they appear to have been made at or near the same time, the question arises as to whether one or more may be a replacement.
The central pastel, on paper mounted on fabric, is a large image in full color of a soldier, an even larger allegorical female, and a flag, which is called Design for Liberty Bond Poster. It is the work of Albert Herter (1871-1950).
Fascia of two-story front porch, dark caps:MEMORIAL TOWN HALL
Upper left plaque on stair wall, raised caps:HONOR ROLL
OF THE CIVIL WAR
1861 - 1865
over 5 columns of 23 names each
Minutes of Town of Old Lyme special town meetings, July 21, 1919, and December 1, 1919; and public notice announcing annual town meeting, October 3, 1921.
Town of Old Lyme, Memorial Town Hall Art Collection, fact sheet. Selectmen's office, Memorial Town Hall.