Close-up on Westport

Rosa Ciccio

The Hartford Courant


HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: After its location in the southwestern corner of Fairfield, one of three towns, along with Weston and Norwalk, from which it was incorporated.

HISTORY: Settled in the mid-1600s when three farmers were given permission to settle the area along the Saugutuck River which became known as Bankside. It was incorporated as a town in 1835.

EARLY INDUSTRY: Due to its fertile soil and location, Westport became an important agricultural and shipping center by the 1830s. The town's onion crop played an important role in the Civil War. The onions were shipped to Union troops who ate them pickled to ward off scurvy.

PLAYHOUSE: The renowned Westport County Playhouse was established in 1930 when theater producers Lawrence Langner and his wife, Armina Marshall, bought a red barn in an apple orchard on the outskirts of town. Productions at the playhouse have featured theater greats such as Tallulah Bankhead, Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda and Helen Hayes.

FAMOUS RESIDENTS: Among the town's notable residents over the years have been Paul Newman, his wife, Joanne Woodward; Rodney Dangerfield; Sandy Dennis; Marlo Thomas; Harry Reasoner; Amy Vanderbilt; Erica Jong; and Fala, the Scottish terrier that was a constant companion to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Fala was a gift from town resident Mrs. Augustus G. Kellog.

SOURCES: The Hartford Courant, Connecticut Place Names, westporters.com; westportplayhouse.org; nps.gov, CT State Register and Manual