By Ali Muldoon | Greenwich Sentinel | July 8, 2022
When Covid-19 hit, the Greenwich Historical Society was determined to continue to preserve and disseminate the history of Greenwich. To achieve this goal, the group compiled a plethora of self-guided walking tours rich with information on what Greenwich was like before Lululemon and Saks 5th Avenue. Let it not be forgotten that the places we frequent almost everyday have existed since the 1700s.
The tours give participants insight into different pieces of Greenwich history. For example, the Historic Gardens and Site tour transports visitors into the peak of American Impressionism that lasted from around 1890 to 1920.
Every stop adds to the narrative, detailing how each of these locations– Toby’s Tavern, The Storehouse, The Historic Grape Arbor, the Bush-Holley House, and the area’s vegetation all played a role at a time when impressionists took on Cos Cob and made the area their studio.
When impressionism was in fashion, the goal was to capture the emotion of a certain place or experience. This is why many prolific artists such as Childe Hassam and Alden Weir journeyed to Greenwich to capture the town’s intimate and calming landscapes, leading to the birth of the Cos Cob Art Colony.
The Bush-Holley House quartered all kinds of creators, ranging from painters to writers. Toby’s Tavern, located just left of the Bush-Holley House, provided artists with inspiration simply because of its distinctive structure and clientele.
Stephanie Barnett, Public Programs Manager for the Greenwich Historical Society, explained that through creating these tours, their goal was to “draw people into the surrounding landscape” and to make sure residents can “enjoy the beauty of the space, really get[ing] to learn more at your own pace.”
With such well-preserved grounds, visitors are sure to be drawn into the sites and feel as if they are living alongside Justus Bush and Emma Constant Holley – former owner and resident of the historical Bush-Holley House.
Barnett later explained that the tours offer a way for people to see Greenwich not only as it stands today, but also as it stood in the past.
For residents, having more knowledge of Greenwich’s history inspires a sense of admiration and belonging to the community. Not only that, but seeing how people have appreciated the town in the past makes us realize that there is so much the area still has to offer.
If you are interested in this experience, the Greenwich Historical Society crafted an app called “Discover Greenwich” that includes information on how to find both guided and self-guided walking tours.