Published September 20. 2012 4:00AM
The Samuel Smith house (aka the Hurlbut House), located in East Lyme, is a rare example of a typical 17th century house.
Not only valued for it age, it has numerous architectural and historical features. The house is in excellent preservation, and "The majority of the original fabric, in particular, its interior woodwork, survives. It is also significant as an illustration of the evolution of the floor plan from end to center-chimney. Moreover, the Hurlbut House is a rare surviving example of the type of simple, primitive structure which would have been common for the average 18th century family." noted the Works Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project, 1937 Connecticut Historical Commission.
State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni has said "…it is a rare opportunity to see a late 1600's house that has maintained such wonderful historic characteristics and an adjoining property that has great integrity for archeological resources..."
The 17 acres of adjoining farmland includes potential archaeological sites and would offer expanded educational and community uses. Preservation of this land would help protect 800 feet of Bride Brook and a part of East Lyme's watershed.
A core group has been meeting and collecting facts and figures with the hope that the town will purchase the house, barn and property. This is a process of several steps. Approval was given to the project by the Board of Selectmen on Sept. 5. Now it will go to the Planning Commission for review and eventually to the Board of Finance for its approval. The final step will be the approval by the town's taxpayers.
Supporters are working to ensure that this property is preserved for future generations. A grant for historic preservation of up to $200,000 is available through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Historic Preservation Division.
The core group has an assessment on the condition of the house and is developing a multi-year plan for its maintenance and continued restoration. We are developing a nonprofit organization with a management plan that includes estimated operating expenses and future public use of the house and surrounding property.
Potential uses include community gardens, walking trails, teaching tools for schools including the history of farming and archeological exploration. It is also envisioned that the property would be part of an historic triangle with the Lee and Smith Harris houses.
The Samuel Smith House and property provide unimaginable opportunities for preserving local and statewide histories that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Consider what will be lost if an investment of $3.58 (or less) annually per taxpayer is not approved for the preservation of this tangible piece of history.
THE AUTHORS ARE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP WORKING TO PRESERVE THE SAMUEL SMITH HOUSE. EMAIL THEM AT SAMUELSMITH1685@MAIL.COM.