Greenwich Historical Society to Restore and Expand Impressionist Era Gardens

We are excited to announce a new grant from the local garden club Hortulus to enable the restoration of the ornamental flower gardens, kitchen gardens, and grape arbor as part of the overall master plan for the Greenwich Historical Society’s dramatic campus transformation. The artist colony Impressionist period gardens of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House provide critical interpretive information for visitors, as they convey both daily life routines (growing food provisions for the residents), as well as inspiring many subjects in the plein-air painters’ tableaux.When the reimagined campus opens in fall 2018, garden improvements will include relocation and expansion of the Impressionist-era fruit and vegetable garden that supported the Holley boarding house and the creation of a new Impressionist-era perennial flower garden along both sides of the walkway that will link the new building to Bush-Holley House and the Vanderbilt Education Center. The current grape arbor will also be replaced with a more durable structure to support the existing grape vines, some of which are 120 years old.

In producing these historical gardens plans, the Society is collaborating with design consultants, Greenwich-based landscape architecture firm Conte & Conte, LLC, and the award-winning historic preservation architectural firm David Scott Parker Architects.

In generating the planting plan, Conte & Conte, which has experience working with historical landscape projects, carefully examined the historical primary and secondary sources (including Garden Calendar of Holley House proprietors Elmer and Constant MacRae for the years 1918-1919 and the additional information compiled in the Historic Landscape Report: Bush-Holley House, Storehouse and Brush Properties, 1996).  For the grape arbor reconstruction drawings, David Scott Parker Architects carefully examined all physical and documentary evidence.

For the technical and careful installation of these historical landscape features, Fairfield House & Garden Company, which is the sister construction company of Conte & Conte, has been selected to carry out the work. The firm has the particular skill combination of working with sensitive landscapes as well as vast experience in the realm of sustaining the appearance of such types of gardens over time. In addition, the firm’s owners, John and Kim Conte, hold a personal interest in the success of the Society’s vision as both of their families have resided in Greenwich since the artist colony was established.

During the 30-year period from 1890 to 1920, Cos Cob and the Holley House (now Bush-Holley House) became the setting for Connecticut’s first art colony. Today, Bush-Holley House visitors can view works by Impressionist artists depicting the house and gardens.

The generous Hortulus grant will enable the Greenwich Historical Society to further its mission and long-term vision for preserving and presenting local history and art in a dynamic and beautiful site dedicated to lifetime learning, connecting us to our past and each other.

About Hortulus

Founded in 1930 and a member of The Garden Club of America, Hortulus’ mission is “to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and creative design; to protect, restore, and improve the quality of the environment through education, programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement.”

Hortulus hosts flower shows, garden trips, workshops, and lectures, and has a long tradition of civic service. The club’s contributions include landscaping at Greenwich Library, The Mews, and the YWCA as well as grants to Nathaniel Witherell, the Greenwich Land Trust, Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Bruce Park, the Garden Education Center, and Greenwich Audubon. Hortulus and the Greenwich Historical Society have a long-standing relationship dating back to the Hortulus Conservation Award designed by Bush-Holley House proprietor Elmer MacRae in 1945.

Greenwich Historical Society’s Campus Reimagining

Greenwich Historical Society is in the home stretch of its Reimagine the Campus Campaign, a bold and ambitious initiative that will expand and provide better access to its facilities, and enrich its education and preservation programs. The visionary plan will enable the Historical Society to advance its mission by making a greater contribution to the cultural life of Greenwich and surrounding areas, while ensuring the preservation of its historic buildings and grounds for the future.

The new building will have a glass lobby, two state-of-the-art exhibition halls to showcase the permanent art and history collections, an expanded research library and archives, museum store, and café. The reimagined campus will welcome the community with more than double the parking and provides universal access to the entire site, including an elevator. It will enable more dynamic programming and experiences for bringing Greenwich history alive to a larger audience.

Greenwich Students: Write/Draw Something for a Time Capsule!

Town Students Invited to Share Hopes, Dreams, and Predictions for Greenwich in Historical Society Time Capsule to Dedicate New Campus

Greenwich Students to Join Boys and Girls Club in Creating Essays and Artwork to be Sealed for 50 Years

The Greenwich Historical Society invites students to contribute to the cultural legacy of the Town by submitting creative content for a time capsule that will become part of the cornerstone of its newly constructed museum and archive building.  Affectionately named Elizabeth for Greenwich’s founding mother Elizabeth Feake, the capsule will be installed at a public event on November 4.

To enter the competition, students prepare a short essay or artwork on 8.5” x 11” paper that describes their hopes, dreams, and predictions for what Greenwich will be like in 50 years when Elizabeth will be opened. The top three submissions will be published in Greenwich Magazine, which is polling residents on what other items should be included in the time capsule. To submit ideas visit greenwichmag.com/timecapsule. Two runners up will receive a family membership to the Greenwich Historical Society.

How to Participate:

  1. Students in Greenwich elementary, middle, and high schools enter by preparing a brief essay (1 – 2 paragraphs) or artwork on 8.5 x 11” paper that reflects their hopes, dreams, and predictions for the Town in the year 2067. Submissions should include the student’s full name, age, and school. By submitting an essay or drawing, students and parents acknowledge that the Greenwich Historical Society has rights to use it in social media, public relations, and for other promotional purposes, and that those rights can be transferred to third party media.
  2. Submissions should be emailed to: admin@greenwichhistory.org or sent via mail to: Time Capsule, Greenwich Historical Society, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob, CT 06807.
  3. All entries must be received by October 30 for consideration to be inserted into the capsule along with other items that will offer a glimpse into what life was like in Greenwich in 2017.
  4. The top three submissions will be published in Greenwich Magazine.

Dedication Ceremony on November 4, 2017

Elizabeth will be installed on Saturday, November 4 at 11 a.m. in a public ceremony at the newly constructed museum and archive building at 47 Strickland Road, Cos Cob. All participating students and their families, Historical Society members and supporters, and all Greenwich residents are invited to attend.

More information on the November 4 Open House, Cornerstone Dedication, and Time Capsule Installation

About Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake and the Founding of the Town of Greenwich

Elizabeth Fones of Suffolk, England in 1629 married Henry Winthrop, who died shortly after arriving in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Elizabeth traveled to the Colony with her infant daughter and married Robert Feake in a union that was approved by her uncle, John Winthrop, Governor of the Colony. On July 18,1640, Robert Feake and Daniel Patrick purchased what became a part of Greenwich for “25 Coates.” The 1640 deed also states that “Elizabeth Neck” – now known as Greenwich Point — was Elizabeth Feake’s “Perticaler purchase.”

Construction Progress

We’re doubling parking capacity as part of our exciting campus transformation. Amazing progress so far! We’ll update this page as time goes on to share photos of the many changes happening at the Greenwich Historical Society.

Construction progress parking lot Nov-Dec 2016The below photos show the impressive progress digging, excavating, drilling, blasting, and otherwise readying the site for the parking lot expansion and new building. Lots of rock to remove!

Looking north November 10, 2016
Looking north November 10, 2016
Looking north February 28, 2017
Looking north February 28, 2017

 

 

 

Treasures Found During Excavation

Items found during excavationThe Greenwich Historical Society has begun its campus transformation ! First steps include removing rock, excavating, and preparing our parking area under the Mianus River Bridge of I-95 to double parking capacity and create a single, accessibe entrance.

Tea kettle found during excavationOur parking lot excavation has turned up quite a few interesting items, from a tea kettle to a (full and unopened!) laxative bottle with dosage directions etched in the glass. Here are some photos of what we’ve found so far. They all have been buried for  approximately 100 years.

Items found during excavationconstruction vehicles

 

 

Greenwich Historical Society:
Reimagining the Campus

An artist's rendering of the reimagined campus at the Greenwich Historical SocietyThe Greenwich Historical Society has announced a visionary plan that will dramatically transform the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House campus to expand and provide better access and to enrich education and preservation programs.

The plan includes new state-of-the-art galleries and archives, more than doubled parking, and an elevator. The new building will have two exhibition and orientation halls, public archives, a gift shop, and a café.

An artist's rendering of the reimagined campus at the Greenwich Historical SocietyA historic building that was once the Railroad Hotel and subsequently Toby’s Tavern will be restored to its appearance at the turn of the 20th century. It will house a museum shop and new Artists Café, exhibition space for community artists, meeting and storage space. The current exhibition space in the adjoining 1805 Storehouse will be renovated to accommodate all Historical Society staff offices.

plan-drawing

An extraordinary dollar-for-dollar matching gift from anonymous donors provides a wonderful assist in achieving the final $8.5 million of the $18.5 million “Reimagine the Greenwich Historical Society” campaign that will realize the Society’s vision for a dynamic campus and place Greenwich’s story indelibly within the broad context of American history. The public is invited to support the Capital Campaign by contacting Katrina Dorsey, Greenwich Historical Society Director of Development, at 203-869-6899, ext. 15, kdorsey@greenwichhistory.org.

For more about this exciting project see greenwichhistory.org/challenge.

Capital Campaign in the News

Greenwich Historical Society embarks on major renovation

Greenwich Time, November 14, 2016

Bush-Holley House campus is aiming for $18.5M fundraising effort

Fairfield County Business Journal, November 15, 2016

Greenwich Historical Society Launches Capital Campaign to Reimagine its Campus to Enhance the Cultural Life of the Community Plan will transform the Bush-Holley complex, expand and provide better access to facilities and enrich education and preservation programs

Greenwich Patch, November 21, 2016