150 Years Later, Reynolds’ Build New in Lyme

The new Reynolds’ Subaru waterfront automotive dealership, nestled on Hamburg Cove in historic Lyme, Connecticut, is as modern as can be. But while its cutting-edge efficiency serves contemporary needs, the dealership’s design and architecture pay homage to Lyme’s unique history and charming ambience.

That was the intent of the dealership’s owners—Leland Thomas (Tom) Reynolds, G. Hayden Jr. Reynolds, and Kathryn (Reynolds) Wayland—the sixth generation of Reynolds family members tending to one of Lyme’s most storied businesses.     Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CT   

It was 1859 when Ephraim Otis Reynolds opened his new shop to serve the town’s carriage-riding customers. Over its 158-year history, the company has weathered every technological shift. Ephraim’s business migrated from manufacturing carriages and selling buggy whips to servicing Model T’s. Today, the company markets modern boats and brand new cars. Each successive generation of the family has added its unique business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit to the enterprise.Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CT

According to a history penned by family members, “In those early days, [Ephraim] built two- and four-seat carriages with canopy tops, and open conveyances. Each wheel spoke was painted and striped appropriately; each carriage received a hand rubbed coat of varnish, leather upholstered seats and cushion and a black patent leather dashboard. The blacksmith shop, located below the carriage shop, made all the iron rims for the carriages. In addition to servicing and building the carriages, Ephraim also operated a general store that included a grain room, hardware, kerosene tanks, and many other necessary items.”

Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CTWhen assembly line wagon production was introduced by Studebaker around 1890, Reynolds saw an opportunity to shift gears and enter the repair business. It would be the first of many shifts throughout the next century and a half. The company’s emphasis would never waver, however: serving customers’ needs remains the top priority for the Reynolds’ family business.

Meanwhile, the town grew and changed, too—but in a careful and concerted fashion. Today, Lyme’s elected officials and townspeople work diligently to maintain its historic character. Bordering the east bank of the Connecticut River, the town is known for its stunning specimens of Colonial and Federal architecture. Incorporated in 1667, Lyme has many nationally-designated and protected historic buildings.Reynolds Subaru | Lyme, CT

How can a new building that meets modern needs be designed for a town that was founded two centuries before Abraham Lincoln became president? Reynolds’ Subaru turned to Jewett Construction Co., Inc., out of Raymond, NH, to help navigate the design issues, challenges, and necessary approvals. The Jewett design-build team consisted of the architects of Bruce Ronayne Hamilton Architects and the engineers at Summit Engineering.

The brand new 22,500-square-foot integrated design-build project, completed in September 2017, required careful coordination between Subaru of New England and the Town of Lyme to accommodate both incorporation of the manufacturer’s current image upgrades and the municipality’s stringent zoning requirements. 

Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CT

Located at 268 Hamburg Road, the new facility combines the iconic stone veneered Subaru tower with a historic carriage house design featuring vertical siding, architectural asphalt shingles, gabled roof lines, and New England barn-inspired accents. All of the design elements reflect the streetscape character of Lyme. Materials and methods were specifically chosen to retain aesthetic compatibility.

“There were certain zoning laws and regulations that we needed to incorporate to be compliant with the town,” noted G. Hayden Reynolds, General Manager and Owner of Reynolds’ Subaru. “Jewett Construction, as well as the Architect, were integral in making sure we achieved the look and design that would be best for the space while gaining approval from the town.”

Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CTConstruction of the new ground-up waterfront facility also included major site improvements, including demolition of two existing buildings. An elevator system, acoustic ceilings, and tile flooring were built to match manufacturer image upgrades. A full walk-out basement opens to an IPE-clad waterfront patio with a bluestone paver hardscape facing the waterfront. The new building’s basement level houses Reynolds’ Subaru’s corporate offices, a conference room, employee and automotive tech break rooms, and file storage space.Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CT

The first floor deck was ruggedly designed to support the Reynolds’ Subaru vehicle inventory, new showroom, and office functions. The new 5,000-square-foot customer-centric showroom features a customer lounge with fireplace and coffee bar, a kid’s zone, and a quiet lounge for visitors. Additionally, the showroom includes inviting sales management offices and a retail parts counter. A high-end 9,400-square-foot service department boasts a radiant heated floor slab, full-coverage automotive-grade tile flooring, a service drive-up and customer write-up area, a parts storage department, and 12 service bays with fully recessed in-ground lifts.Reynolds Subaru | Lyme CT

It’s brand new—while honoring the old—and that’s perfect in Lyme.

And it was a perfect project for Jewett Construction, which has completed more than 100 automotive dealership projects throughout New England. The company’s team of trained professionals have deep experience in designing and building modern showroom renovations to meet manufacturer’s standards. Today, more than 80 percent of its customers are either repeat or referral clients—including some of the most well-known names in the New England auto industry, including AutoFair, Prime Motor Group, the Herb Chambers Companies, and the Grappone Automotive Group.

Reynolds Subaru | Lyme, CT“I was comfortable knowing that Jewett Construction would follow through on whatever they said they would do. They assured me that what I wanted to get out of my building, I would get. And, I did,” added Reynolds.

Now Reynolds’ Subaru has a facility that will serve it well for decades to come. What founder Ephraim might think about a coffee bar and kids play area we’ll never know. But if the company history is any indication, he’d probably approve. Changing with the times—and serving the customers—never goes out of style for this family business.

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