The Hoffman-Matthiessen-DeGerenday Preserve is a beautiful, 40-acre property located on Sill Lane. It is a favorite of many locals looking for a moderate hike in a wooded setting. In the 75 minutes it takes to walk the preserve, one will pass through laurel stands and large, soft patches of ferns, and may be rewarded by encountering beaver, swans, ducks, deer, great blue herons, an occasional osprey, or songbirds.
The Hoffman Preserve is reached by driving west from Laysville Center on the Boston Post Road to Sill Lane just past the Irving gas-All Pro Station. When you cross over the bridge, there is parking on both sides of the road. The Hoffman property is on the left (west/south) side of the road. Avoid the field as it is not part of the OLLT property.
Click for: • Mapquest Directions.
The trail begins at a well-defined parking area on Sill Lane. It proceeds south-westward along a wood road for a hundred yards where a sign directs the hiker to the left and up a hill that overlooks the stream. Two other trails continue straight from that point. NOTE: Trail along the stream will be re-directed during wood duck nesting season. Please obey posted signs.
Three separate trails are well marked in Blue, Red and Yellow. Follow the different trail markers from the point of divergence until they rejoin the initial trail on the wood road where you started. Each loop takes 45 minutes to over an hour to walk. Wildlife includes beaver, swans, ducks, deer, and songbirds.
Jack Hine (860 434 5625) and John Christiano (860 434 3806).
Please contact our steward if you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding this property or use our online • Property Report Form.
History of the Hoffman Preserve
The Preserve is the result of three generous donations to the Old Lyme Land Trust: 24 acres off Sill Lane donated by John L. Hoffman, eight acres on Millpond Lane donated by Ormsby Hanes Matthiessen, and another eight acres on Millpond Lane donated by Elisabeth DeGerenday. These three adjacent parcels together comprise what is known as the Hoffman-Matthiessen-Degerenday Preserve (more familarly known as “Hoffman Preserve.") The southern tip of this preserve is across the Mill Lane Brook from the OLLT’s George and Woodward H. Griswold Preserve.
The property donated by Mr. Hoffman in 1992 previously was part of the estate of his parents, Harry Hoffman and Beatrice Pope. Their home, which they called Chuluota—an Indian word meaning “beautiful view”—was sold as a separate five-acre parcel and is not part of the Preserve. Harry Hoffman was an established artist who loved Old Lyme. He is best known for his use of color in his oil paintings, including several underwater scenes in the Bahamas. He first came to Old Lyme in 1902 to attend summer classes at the local art colony which centered around Miss Florence Griswold and her boarding house (now the Florence Griswold Museum). Like many other artists of his time, Hoffman later built a home and studio in Old Lyme (in 1910), spending time here painting and developing a camaraderie with his fellow artists. Hoffman devoted considerable energy to the Lyme Art Association and the Florence Griswold Association, which was founded in 1936 by a small group of artists, relatives, and friends of Miss Florence, who lived out her remaining years in the boarding house-- her ancestral home-- as part of the arrangement.
A second parcel, to the west of the Hoffman property, was donated by Ms. Ormsby Hanes Matthiessen in 2001. Ms. Matthiessen was “enthusiastic about saving all the land that can be saved”. This parcel proved to be important in connecting the three pieces of the preserve together. With the addition of these eight acres, a second trail, passing by a pond and then continuing into the woods, was added to the preserve.
In August of 2007, a third parcel of eight acres was bequeathed by Elisabeth DeGerenday upon her death. Ms. DeGerenday—who went by the name Elisabeth Gordon Chandler professionally—was the founder of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme. She moved from New York City to Old Lyme in 1962, and established the Lyme Academy in 1976 in order to provide students with an education in traditional, representational art. She was a gifted sculptor who married a fellow sculptor, Laci DeGerenday.