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The Thomas Lyon House

The Thomas Lyon House is the oldest house in Greenwich. Probably built circa 1695, it remains relatively unchanged, and retains a Colonial footprint established more than 300 years ago. Moved nearly intact in 1926/27 from its first site on the north side of the Post Road, this classic saltbox retains much of its original building material.

This house has been acknowledged throughout the 20th century as a rare example of Colonial architecture without the usual alterations and additions that occur over time. It was included in a Works Progress Administration study in the 1930s, the Connecticut Statewide Inventory of Historic Houses in 1966, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is mentioned in J. Frederick Kelly’s The Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut and Florence S. Crofut’s Guide to the History and the Historic Sites of Connecticut.

When the Post Road was widened in the 1920s, the house had to be moved. Mrs. Julia Lyon Saunders, the last of seven generations of the Lyon family to occupy the house, gave it to the Lions Club and Rotary Club to be used as a welcome and information center for the Town of Greenwich as the “Gateway to New England.” The house was moved to Byram School land leased to the clubs by the Town of Greenwich.

The well-known Greenwich architect Theodore E. Blake, who had been associated with Carrere and Hastings, was asked to prepare plans for the restoration and landscaping of the house and a fund-raising campaign was initiated. Regrettably, most of the funds were spent moving the house to its present location and the restoration plan never materialized. For many years it was a rental property, providing funds to the clubs for their philanthropic work.

In 1980 the Rotary Club ceded their interest to the Lions Club Foundation. When repairs to the house became too great for that foundation to undertake, they gave the house to the Town which assumed legal responsibility for it in January 2007. The Town maintains the site and has recently removed 20th-century material that marred the house’s exterior appearance.

The Byram Neighborhood Association formed the Thomas Lyon House Committee in 2006 to insure the house’s survival and investigate possible uses for it. The first goal of the committee was to document the age and condition of the house with a title search, dendrochronology study, and historic structure report. Denise Savageau, Conservation Commission Director, has funded the title search, and the first part of the historic structure report. Grants will be pursued to complete the documentation phase. When the research is completed, the Committee will prepare a report on possible uses for the house and all interested parties will be involved with making the decision as to its future use.

The Thomas Lyon House Committee established the Greenwich Preservation Trust in 2008 which, as one of its goals, will continue to work with the Town to restore and find an appropriate use for this historic structure.

 


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