Greenwich Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and interpret Greenwich history to strengthen the community’s connection to our past, to each other and to our future.
It collects and chronicles the vibrant history of Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, a beautiful and historically pivotal New York City suburb and Gateway to New England that was founded in 1640.
Greenwich Historical Society’s boldly reimagined campus opened fall 2018. It relays the town’s national significance via the circa 1730 National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House, a nationally accredited museum, library and archives, café, store, and restored Impressionist-era gardens.
Greenwich Historical Society was founded in 1931 and acquired Bush-Holley House in 1957. It is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a member of the Historic Artists Homes and Studios, and is one of 21 museums on the Connecticut Art Trail.
Greenwich Historical Society restored an 1805 former Railroad Hotel, saloon, and residence to its former Italianate splendor, preserving original floorboards and recreating original wallpapers. This building, called Toby’s in honor of former proprietor Tobias Burke, now houses a carefully curated museum store and café. It is connected to a modern, light-filled 9,900-square-foot museum and library whose highlights include two state-of-the-art museum galleries that display works from the permanent collections and host special exhibitions, and an accessible research library and archives that preserves more than 40,000 items that document Greenwich’s rich cultural heritage.
The campus also features American Impressionist-era flower, fruit and vegetable gardens restored according to historical documentation, and paths that link the new museum to Bush-Holley House.
Bush-Holley House survived the American Revolution and gained recognition as one of the earliest American Impressionist art colonies. The house is interpreted in two distinct time periods: the New Nation (1790-1825) when the Bush family owned the house; and the Cos Cob art colony (1890-1920) era when the home was a boarding house and gathering place for writers and artists such as Childe Hassam, John Henry Twachtman, and J. Alden Weir. Eight evocative, well-documented rooms tell a story of change over time. The other historic buildings, landscape, and gardens evoke the turn of the 20th century when Cos Cob became the first Impressionist art colony in Connecticut.
Programs and Events
Greenwich Historical Society contributes immeasurably to the cultural vitality of this unique community and serves as a bridge from the past to the future by offering innovative programs, exhibitions and preservation initiatives.
Education is core to the Greenwich Historical Society’s mission. Every year the historical society interacts with thousands of students and teachers: All third graders in Greenwich Public Schools, most local independent schools, and school groups from neighboring towns in Connecticut and New York visit every year for interactive, inquiry-based programs that meet curriculum standards and complement classroom teaching.
Greenwich Historical Society produces many lectures, programs, tours and events every year for adults and children. It works to raise awareness of the town’s history and historic places and buildings through efforts including the Landmark Recognition Awards, creating historic district markers, and supporting the Greenwich Preservation Network.
Greenwich Luminaries Past and Present
Greenwich has long been associated with well-known individuals and pivotal events in the arts, business, journalism and politics. In addition to Cos Cob art colony members, other noteworthy Greenwich residents past and present include: Ernest Thompson Seton, a founder of the Boy Scouts; Col. Raynal Bolling who began the Air Force Reserve Command of the U.S. Air Force; Crayola founders the Binneys; sports and entertainment luminaries including Tom Seaver and Diana Ross; and scions of industry such as the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts.
Behind Bush-Holley House, the Vanderbilt Education Center accommodates lectures, family programs, school groups and meetings, and may be rented for private events. On Strickland Road, the 1805 Storehouse is a former warehouse, store and post office that is now the location of administrative offices.