Greenwich is the tenth oldest
town in Connecticut. The first settlement in Greenwich was
founded in 1640, on land purchased from the local natives.
Old Greenwich was actually purchased for “twenty five
coats.” The settlers came to this area to escape the
more rigid pressures of Puritan communities to the north.
Soon, Dutch and English settlers followed. There was a lot
of conflict and attacks between the settlers and the natives.
The Native Americans were forced to retreat from their hunting
and farming areas. Greenwich was first called Elizabeth’s
Neck and was later named after Greenwich, England – former
home of some of its earlier residents.
The harbors and rivers
that encompass Greenwich were very important economically
to transport produce and other goods to New York and English
markets. Cos Cob waterfront, at this time, was a key economic
and cultural center to Greenwich. Now, cultural and economic
functions are centered around well known “Greenwich
Avenue,” where New York City
influences have afforded us the benefits of the city yet
still allows Greenwich to maintain
its overall rural atmosphere.
Education, even as early as the 1600’s, was of great
concern to the people of Greenwich. By the mid 18th century,
the town had nine school districts for public education.
John Perrott opened the first private school in 1766 in downtown
Old Greenwich. Today, you can visit the Perrott Memorial
Library next to scenic Binney Park (a great place to picnic!).
Greenwich was primarily a farming town. In the early 1800’s,
the railroad wrought many wealthy New Yorkers, who eventually
settled here. Greenwich developed into a summer resort. Many
New Yorkers wanted to escape the noisy city. Homes and hotels
were built along the beautiful shoreline. The hotels attracted
many artists and writers. The famed Bush-Holley House, a
treasured saltbox built in 1732, is now a National Historic
Landmark. It is also a nationally recognized museum for art
and history. It housed the artists who came to Greenwich
in the 1890’s such as Childe Hassam, John Twachtman,
Theodore Robinson and Emer Livingston MacRae. Their paintings
of the local scenery made Greenwich known as the birthplace
of the American Impressionist Art Movement. These paintings
are on display at the Bush Holley house, along with a spectacular
collection of 18th century furnishings and accessories (the
Inn is also filled with many American Impressionist reproductions).
This historical site is a place worth visiting.
Today, celebrating its 350th
anniversary, Greenwich is the home of many large corporations
that has brought people here from all parts of the world.
You can enjoy being in "the
country" and still be in “the city” within
an hour. It’s the best of both worlds.