Out & About: Lyme Historians Map Lyme’s Past in Latest Exhibit

  • Lyme Historians board member and past president Jane Fant points out symbols on an embroidered map at the Lyme History Museum in Lyme, N.H. The map is part of an exhibit called "Map Mania: Maps of Lyme and Grafton County Over the Years." (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli)

  • The Lyme Historians are looking for help identifying photographs in a binder at the Lyme History Museum. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli)

Valley News Calendar Editor
Monday, August 21, 2017

Lyme — The first exhibit at the new location of the Lyme Historians’ Lyme History Museum came about almost accidentally.

“Moving made us find out what we had,” said Jane Fant, a board member and past president of the Lyme Historians.

It turns out that one of the things they had were maps. Dozens of maps. The discovered trove forms the relocated museum’s inaugural exhibit, “Map Mania: Maps of Lyme and Grafton County Over the Years.”

“I love maps and people love maps,” Fant told me during a recent tour of the exhibit. “They always pause in front of maps.”

And what a wonderful space for them to be displayed. I visited the museum last Friday, when the weather outside ranged from torrential downpour to mere drizzle. Despite that, the interior of the museum was warm and inviting. As Fant explained the work that had been done to turn the 1850 home into an exhibit space, it was easy to see why the historians were drawn to the building: It features a wide front porch, numerous windows that emphasize natural light (even with rain) and is located smack-dab in the center of town.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to check out a variety of maps, including various property surveys. One map that caught my attention tracks the town’s declining population. It was part of a study done in the 1920s by a Dartmouth professor, James Walter Goldthwait, about the declining populations in New England towns.

My favorite was a hand-stitched map that includes churches, a moose to represent Moose Mountain and even a farmer driving a team of horses. The map was donated by the estate of a Lyme resident but the museum remains uncertain about who made it. Fant estimates, based on the locations included, that it was made before the 1950s.

“I just love it,” she said. “I wish we knew more.”

‘Mystery Photos: Can You Help?’

If you visit, be sure to take a look at a binder full of unidentified photographs that the historians are asking the public for help with. Dozens of photographs have been donated to the museum over the years, but a portion of them lacked identifications of the people pictured.

“With every passing year, we’re losing older citizens,” Fant said. “It is a lesson to mark your pictures.”

Editor’s note: The Lyme History Musuem, located at 15 Main St., is open on Wednesdays, 4-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-noon. Admission is free. For more information, call 603-795-2508 or email lymehistorians@gmail.com. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.