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Press Release

Historical Society Granted Garden Club of America Historic Preservation Commendation for Bush Holley House and Impressionist Art Colony Gardens

Historical Society Granted Garden Club of America
Historic Preservation Commendation
for Bush Holley House and Impressionist Art Colony Gardens

Gardens are inspiration for upcoming exhibit:
Beautiful Work: The Art of Greenwich Gardens and Landscapes

COS COB, April 15, 2021 — Greenwich Historical Society is the 2020 recipient of The Garden Club of America’s Zone Historic Preservation Commendation. This award recognizes the Greenwich Historical Society’s sustained preservation of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House site and restoration of the American Impressionist art colony gardens.

“For more than a century, a priority of The Garden Club of America has been to recognize and encourage those who have made – and are making – exceptional contributions such as the Greenwich Historical Society,” says Debbie Edwards, president, The Garden Club of America. “The GCA is honored to acknowledge talented leaders who promote the knowledge and love of gardening and who restore, improve and protect the environment. The members of the Executive Board and the Awards Committee applaud the Greenwich Historical Society on this very special commendation.”

A formal virtual Garden Club of America Awards Ceremony was held at the Zone II President’s Council on the evening of Wednesday, April 14th. According to Elizabeth Darling, Hortulus Awards co-chair. “It is a distinct pleasure to present the garden Club of America’s Zone Historic Preservation Commendation to the Greenwich Historical Society in recognition of its sustained preservation of the National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House site and restoration of American Impressionist art colony gardens for future generations.”

“Hortulus’s strong association with the Greenwich Historical Society continues today through our partnership in renovating the Bush-Holley House’s heirloom vegetable gardens, restoring the more than a century-year-old grape arbor, and the reestablishment of Elmer and Constant Holley MacRae’s historic flower garden that inspired many paintings by American Impressionists artists at the Cos Cob Art Colony such as the painting, “View of the Garden” by Walter A. Finch from the turn of the century,” said Ms. Darling.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Garden Club of America for our preservation efforts tied to Bush-Holley House and our campus gardens,” says Haley Elmlinger, Greenwich Historical Society Board Co-Chair. “We especially thank Hortulus for restoring the flower and vegetable gardens that were inspired by the landscape when boarding artists, writers and other cultural figures who made up the Cos Cob art colony gathered at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Greenwich Garden Club established the Tavern Garden near the restored Toby’s Tavern to reflect the Colonial Revival interests of the art colony era. These gardens are an important inspiration for our upcoming exhibition: Beautiful Work: The Art of Greenwich Gardens and Landscapes to open May 1st.”

In commenting on the award, Greenwich Garden Club past president Jane Dunn cited the expanded American Impressionist-era perennial and vegetable gardens and restoration of a sublime 120-year-old grape arbor walkway, gifts of Hortulus. “Here you walk through a ‘Giverny’ color palate with a variety of gorgeous colored annuals and perennials. The Tavern Garden, a gift from the Greenwich Garden Club is cultivated with climbing vines, historic daffodil bulbs, lilies, hydrangeas and appropriate perennials and annuals. Both the ‘gifted’ garden areas are meticulously and lovingly maintained.”

Former Chair of the Historical Society’s Board of Trustees Davidde Strackbein was an integral part of the nomination process. According to Ms. Strackbein The Greenwich Historical Society remains the only National Historic Landmark in the Town of Greenwich: “The recent expansion and restoration of the historic art colony streetscape, coupled with the restoration of both Toby’s Tavern and the site’s historic gardens, are emblematic of the Historical Society’s significant contribution to historic preservation. As a regional cultural attraction within the Garden Club of America’s local Zone II the expanded campus now offers innovative educational and inspirational resources for the study and enjoyment of art, history and – for the first time – historic gardens for visitors of all ages. These initiatives also reflect the national Historic Landmark site’s unique local contributions to the preservation of America’s rich artistic, cultural and horticultural history for future generations.”

Elizabeth Darling presided at a ceremony to present the award in person ahead of the April 14th virtual event which took place at the Greenwich Historical Society on March 25th. Accepting the award was Haley Elmlinger, Historical Society Trustees Bea Crumbine, Davidde Strackbein and Debbie Reynolds; Peter J. Tesei, Former First Selectman for the Town of Greenwich; Jane Dunn, past president of Greenwich Garden Club; Hortulus President Nanny Cannon, and Historical Society Executive Director Debra Mecky and Director of Operations Michele Couture. Hortulus Awards Co-chairs Annesley MacFarlane and Colleen Hempleman were unable to attend.

About Greenwich Historical Society
Greenwich Historical Society was founded in 1931 to preserve and interpret Greenwich history to strengthen the community’s connection to our past, to each other and to our future. The circa 1730 National Historic Landmark Bush-Holley House witnessed slavery and the American Revolution and became the site of Connecticut’s first American Impressionist art colony from 1890 to 1920. Its landscape and gardens are restored based on documentation from the site’s Impressionist era. The campus also includes a nationally accredited museum, library and archives, a museum store, café, and a community education center. Greenwich Historical Society educates thousands of school children annually and connects visitors to the history of this globally influential community through exhibitions, lectures, programs, and events. It receives no town funding and relies on donations and grants to continue its work in education and preservation. Learn more at

Media Contacts
Cai Pandolfino, Greenwich Historical Society,
Laura McCormick, McCormick PR,