‘Tis the season! Photos of the Greenwich Historical Society campus decorated for the holidays:
Bush-Holley House Interior Decorated for the Holidays
Every December, Bush-Holley House is decorated in a historically accurate way with an ornamented tree, fir garlands, and stockings by the fireplace.
Christmas was not widely celebrated during the Bush family years as Puritans considered Christmas traditions derived from pagan rituals. By the time the Holleys occupied the house though, Christmas traditions included a tree, visiting friends and family, presents, and special meals.
What is now called Bush-Holley House was built in stages starting ca.1730. Beginning in 1738 the house was owned by the Bush (Dutch, originally Bosch; no relation to the political Bushes) family.
Its life as a boardinghouse began in 1848 when the now much-expanded home passed out of the Bush family. Josephine and Edward Holley operated it as a boardinghouse for artists and writers beginning in 1882 and passed it to their daughter Constant Holley following her marriage to the artist Elmer MacRae in 1900.
Christmas was popularized starting with the publication of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” in 1822 and later with a photo of Queen Victoria and her family around a table-top Christmas tree in 1847. As the 19th century came to a close, it was becoming more common for trees to be full size with all the trimmings rather than small table-top displays.
Living at the Holley house in 1910 were Constant (age 39) and Elmer (age 35); their twin daughters, Clarissa and Constant (age 6); Constant’s parents, Edward P. Holley (age 72) and Josephine (age 61); Sally Hudson (age 26), an African-American servant; and, according to the 1910 census, two roomers—Isabel Fowler (age 44) and Carolyn Mase (age 42).