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Greenwich Historical Society celebrates Great Estates in exhibit

Indian Harbor
Indian Harbor
Greenwich Historical Society

Now through the end of August there is still time to visit the Greenwich Historical Society, located on 39 Strickland Road in Cos Cob to view their summer exhibition titled Enjoying the Country Life, Greenwich's Great Estates.

According to statistics, by 1921, Greenwich Connecticut had the highest per capita income in the country which transformed this quiet rural coastal town into an enclave of the rich and famous. The years from 1880 to 1930 is noted as a gilded age for Greenwich. Before the economic boom, most residents of Greenwich were farmers, shopkeepers or oystermen. With the new wealth coming to town and along with it the wealthy and powerful people, Greenwich Connecticut rivaled Newport Rhode Island.

This exhibition draws on the collections of the Greenwich Historical Society and uses clothing, photos, and objects that mark this rise in wealth and social power from 1880 to 1930 and transformed this community. During this time, many grand estates were built. Many images in this exhibition such as Indian Harbor built by Commodore E. C. Benedict in 1885 on 80 waterfront acres epitomize this time. This gorgeous home was designed by Carrere and Hastings and had a garden designed by Olmstead, who also designed Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. Today, although it has been modified, the house still stands.

Outside the Bush Holley House, owned and maintained by the Greenwich Historical Society don't miss the Holley-MacRae War Garden that has been recreated using the diary of Elmer MacRae dating from 1918. MacRae was part of the Cos Cob art colony that once flourished here. The garden itself represents the types of crops that would have been grown during the years of World War I. In order to secure greater amounts of food for the troops, many war gardens were created with the goal of growing crops that could easily be canned and then rationed.

The Greenwich Historical Society is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. and docent led tours are at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. or by appointment.