July 23, 2014
By TINA BACHETTI | Hartford Courant
HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: Likely named after Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, in England. A settler, Matthew Griswold, apparently left England from the port of Lyme Regis.
ORIGINS: Set off from Saybrook in 1665, the town was incorporated in 1855 as South Lyme. The name changed to Old Lyme in 1857; the use of "old" was an imitation of Old Saybrook, which had been incorporated as the south part of the town of Saybrook in 1852.
ART COLONY: In 1899, Old Lyme resident Florence Griswold turned her family home and 12 surrounding acres into a summer retreat for artists. Resident artists included landscape painter Henry Ward Ranger and Impressionist painter Childe Hassam. Ellen Louise Wilson, first wife of president Woodrow Wilson, also studied there. Griswold died in 1937 at age 86. Since 1947, the house has served as a museum.
FAMOUS RESIDENTS: Ella T. Grasso, the state's first woman governor (1975-1980), and naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, whose 1934 "Field Guide to Eastern Birds" is considered the first modern field guide. Physicist Albert Einstein spent the summer of 1935 in Old Lyme, and UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun began his coaching career at Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 1965.
SOURCES: Connecticut Place Names; The Hartford Courant; Florence Griswold Museum; Connecticut State Library