Florence Griswold Museum
What: Museum / Art Gallery
Where: 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, 06371
Open: Tues – Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sun: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Admission: $9 Adults, $8 Seniors, $7 Students, Free to visitors 12 and under
Located on an 11-acre site in the historic village of Old Lyme, the Florence Griswold Museum is known as the Home of American Impressionism. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, where the artists of the Lyme Art Colony lived, the Museum features a modern exhibition gallery, education center, a new landscape center, extensive gardens, and a restored artist’s studio.
The Florence Griswold House
Florence Griswold House in Old Lyme, Connecticut was a boarding house run by Florence Griswold, where American Impressionist artists lived and painted—often directly on the walls and doors of the house. The building is now part of the campus of the Florence Griswold Museum.
Leading artists of the Lyme Art Colony who stayed at the boarding house were Henry Ward Ranger, Childe Hassam, and Willard Metcalf. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and his family dined with “Miss Florence” and the artists in the house.
The entire first floor has been furnished to reflect its appearance in about 1910, the height of its years as an artists’ boarding house. Visitors enter through a wide center hall, where an “informal gallery” displays paintings on grass cloth walls. The hall also contains Colonial and Empire furniture. Two bedrooms are off the hallway — Miss Florence’s bedroom and a guest bedroom. A parlor on the first floor has artists’ brushes on the mantel. In that room the artist-boarders would present various types of entertainment for each other. The second floor is exhibition space.
Samuel Belcher, architect of the Old Lyme Congregational Church, designed the late Georgian-style house for William Noyes. It was built in 1817.
The artists who painted on the house’s doors and walls were probably following a tradition imported from hostelries in the French art colonies at Barbizon, Giverny, and Pont-Aven. A total of 41 painted panels are in the downstairs rooms.
The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. In July 2007 the building reopened after a 14-month restoration project.