Chronology of Greenwich Historical Society

Chronology of the
Greenwich Historical Society

1931 - 2022

As the Greenwich Historical Society begins its “Countdown to 100” years of service to the community, we reflect fondly on the steps we’ve taken to fulfill our mission to preserve and interpret our shared history.

1931
Greenwich Historical Society Founded
Founded to collect and preserve the history of Greenwich, Connecticut, the Historical Society was housed in a library in the village of Old Greenwich. Outgrowing its space, the Historical Society began its search in the late 1950s for permanent headquarters.
1931
Bush-Holley House ca1890
1957
Purchase of Bush-Holley House
The Historical Society purchased Bush-Holley House, a circa 1730 waterfront mansion on the historic Cos Cob Harbor that had become a boardinghouse for an art colony between 1890 and 1920. Volunteers began the campaign to restore the house and its outbuildings, and the house opened to the public as a museum in 1958. Emphasizing its early history, the house was furnished with eighteenth-century furniture and served the dual role of curators’ residence and house museum.
1957
1975
First National Register and Local Historic District
The Strickland Road Historic District was the town’s first National Register and Local Historic District. This historic district was established through the Historical Society’s efforts. The district includes Bush-Holley House and protects over 25 houses built between 1730 and 1938. To celebrate the Bicentennial, volunteers researched and published a chronology of Greenwich from 1640 to 1976.
1975
1987
Founding of The William E. Finch, Jr. Archives
In 1987 the Historical Society built the William E. Finch, Jr. Archives, followed by the hiring of an archivist and the first director. The board leadership galvanized 200 volunteers into the “Antiquarius” committee to raise funds for the Historical Society. Over the next ten years they raised over two million dollars, making possible the expansion of education programs for Greenwich schools and the inauguration of a research program to document and plaque historic sites throughout town.
1987
Lobby to Storehouse ©Durston-Saylor
1989
Purchase of Justus Luke Bush Storehouse
The circa 1805 Justus Luke Bush Storehouse was purchased. The importance of Bush-Holley House and the storehouse’s nineteenth-century link to American Impressionism came into stronger focus in the 1990s through a collaborative exhibition with the Bruce Museum and the formation of the Connecticut Impressionist Art Trail, joining ten sites featuring Impressionist art collections. In 1991 Bush-Holley House was granted National Historic Landmark status as home of Connecticut’s first art colony.
1989
1997
Unification of Historic Grounds
In 1997 the Historical Society began restoration of the storehouse and the first phase of a historic landscape plan to unify the historic grounds and buildings to their appearance in 1900 at the height of the Cos Cob art colony. The Bush Storehouse opened as a visitor center and exhibition gallery, and the Historical Society instituted bi-annual history and art exhibitions. 
1997
1990 – 2002
Historical Society Grounds Expansion
From 1999-2002 the Historical Society completed the reinterpretation of Bush-Holley House and expanded the barn into the Vanderbilt Education Center.  Bush-Holley House was furnished to present two distinct time periods: the New Nation Bush Household (1790–1825) and the Cos Cob Art Colony Holley House (1890–1920). Eight evocative, well-documented rooms were interpreted to tell a dual story of change over time, while the historic buildings, landscape and gardens were restored to evoke the turn of the twentieth century. 
1990 – 2002
2005
Historical Society received accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums
With its expanded and professionally developed site, exhibitions and programs, the Historical Society received accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 2005 and published Building Greenwich: Architecture and Design, 1640 to the Present.
2005
2012
Toby's Tavern, Development of Master Plan, Museum and Archives Opened & Expansion of Education Programs
The Historical Society acquired Toby’s Tavern, the last historic building remaining on the Cos Cob Landing, and began the master planning to restore the building and expand the campus to significantly improve accessibility and educational programs through the “Reimagine the Campus Campaign”. A new award-winning 10,000 sq. ft. museum and archives designed by David Scott Parker Architects opened in 2018, replacing the former Finch Archives. In furtherance of its education programs for all Greenwich schools, the Historical Society secured endowment gifts to underwrite museum partnerships in the town’s Title I schools. The historic grape arbor was restored and the Hortulus American Impressionist gardens and Greenwich Garden Club Tavern gardens were added. In 2020 the Historical received reaccreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.
2012
2019
Start of Archives Digitization Project
In 2019 the Historical Society began a three-year project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library services to catalog and digitize the archives, and joined the Connecticut Digital Archives, linking collections to the digital Library of America. 
2019
2020
Serving the Community during the Pandemic
When the global pandemic began, the Historical Society was well-positioned to share resources virtually and to use its landscape and gardens to host markets, concerts and tours. 
2020
2021
Partnerships & Programs
As the Historical Society began the celebration of its 90th anniversary, the David Ogilvy Preservation Award was initiated and the 318th historic building was granted a landmark plaque. New partnerships and programs began in 2021 and 2022 to elevate and amplify underrepresented voices in local history, including The Witness Stones Project and Shining a Light lecture series. 
2021
2022 & Beyond
Strengthening our Community
As the Historical Society looks to the future, its mission to preserve and interpret Greenwich history to strengthen the community’s connection to our past, to each other and to our future is our legacy and our responsibility. Together, we are stepping into a new chapter, ensuring that our connection to community runs deep, that we engender a sense of place, rooted in the past and committed to the future.
2022 & Beyond