Audubon, Architecture and Art

Location: Greenwich and Stamford

 

Directions: This tour begins in Greenwich. Traveling on I-95 North take Exit 3 (Arch St.) at the end of the exit take a right at the intersection of Steamboat Rd, Arch St. and Museum Dr., proceed straight onto Museum Dr. to the Bruce Museum on the left. Retrace your steps to the intersection of Museum Drive, Arch St, and Steamboat Rd. To reach the Audubon Greenwich go straight on Arch St. just past the junction of I-95, take a left onto Sound View Dr.  At street's end, turn right onto Field Pt. Rd., at the next light turn left onto Brookside Dr., at the end of the road, turn left onto Glenville Rd. After 1.5 miles turn right at the light, onto Riverville Rd. (just past the Glenville Green) and follow for 4.5 miles to the stop sign at John St.; the entrance gate to Audubon Greenwich is on the right. Retrace your steps to the intersection of Sound View Drive and Field Pt. Rd., continue straight on Field Pt. Rd.; at the intersection of Field Point Rd. and Railroad Ave., take a left on Railroad Ave., at the junction of Railroad Ave. and Arch St. take a left on Arch St to Greenwich Ave. To continue, at the junction of Arch St. and Greenwich Ave., go straight across Greenwich Ave. to Havemmeyer La.; take a left (toward Rte. 1) on Mason St.  At the junction of Mason St. and Rte. 1 (East Putnam Ave.) turn right and follow for several miles to Putnam Cottage. To reach the Bush Holley Historic Site, continue on East Putnam Ave. (Rte. 1) for one mile, take a right onto Strickland Rd., at the end of the road take a right, parking is located under the overpass. Retrace your steps, to the intersection of East Putnam Ave. (Rte. 1 North) and Strickland Ave., take a right onto East Putnam Ave. At the intersection of East Putnam Ave. and Orchard St (2nd. Light), turn left on Orchard St., proceed .2 miles and turn right onto Bible Street. Follow Bible Street .7 miles; the entrance to the Garden Education Center. Retrace your steps, take a left on East Putnam Ave. (Rte. 1 North), follow for several miles passing through the village of Riverside. Take I 95 North to Stamford. To visit Cove Harbor and SoundWater Environmental Center, take exit 8 off of I- 95, go straight off the exit onto South State St., at the next light take a right onto Canal St., at the intersection of Canal St. and Dock St., take a left onto Dock Street.  At the intersection of Shippen Ave., Elm St., and Cove Rd., proceed straight onto Cove Rd. and follow it to the end.  At the intersection of Cove Rd. and Weed Ave. bear right to Cove Harbor. To continue your tour, retrace your steps along Cove Rd. to Elm St.

Greenwich and the Islands

Our tour begins in Greenwich the southernmost and westernmost town in Connecticut that was settled in 1640.  Like New York, it was settled by the Dutch rather than the British and is the only town in New England that can make this claim.  Just 35 miles from Manhattan, it maintains close ties there. CNN and Money Magazine have listed Greenwich as the 12th best place to live in the country. Three islands lie off the coast of Greenwich. Island Beach, one of the Town's oldest public parks is accessible by ferry from the landing at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park off Arch Street from the second Saturday in June through September 15.  Calf Island is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and is a unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. It provides roosting and foraging habitat for the water bird colony at Great Captain's Island. It is open to visitors although half the island is a bird sanctuary that is off-limits to members of the public. Great Captain Island is the site of the largest wading bird rookery in Connecticut, with approximately 300 nesting pairs of great egrets, snowy egrets, and black-crowned night herons.  On the island you will find a 19th c. lighthouse (no public tours) and an interesting network of trails where many bird species can be seen. The western part of the island has picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and posted swimming areas. Great Captain Island is open year round, with a ferry running during the summer.

The Bruce Museum – A Greenwich Gem

Traveling on I-95 North take Exit 3 (Arch St.) at the end of the exit take a right and head for the Bruce Museum, along the way you will pass Roger Sherman Baldwin Park where you can catch a ferry to Great Captain Island.  At the intersection of Steamboat Rd, Arch St. and Museum Dr., proceed straight onto Museum Dr. to the Bruce Museum on the left.

The Bruce Museum is well known for its superb high quality changing art, natural science and historical exhibits and for its excellent lecture series. This jewel of a museum has an impressive and varied permanent collection that ranges from paintings by American and European artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including Impressionistic paintings from the Cos Cob Art Colony to a fascinating natural history wing that has mounted wildlife, flora and fauna specific to Long Island Sound.  Another wing details geology from Connecticut and displays a brilliant collection of minerals from around the globe.

Retrace your steps to the intersection of Museum Drive, Arch St, and Steamboat Rd.

Audubon Greenwich - Naturally

To reach the Audubon Greenwich go straight on Arch St. just past the junction of I-95, take a left onto Sound View Dr.  At street's end, turn right onto Field Pt. Rd., at the next light turn left onto Brookside Dr., at the end of the road, turn left onto Glenville Rd. After 1.5 miles turn right at the light, onto Riverville Rd. (just past the Glenville Green) and follow for 4.5 miles to the stop sign at John St.; the entrance gate to Audubon Greenwich is on the right.

This is a lovely ride as the road meanders through the wooded countryside and past many large estates and homes that are so iconic of this wealthy community that is a stone's throw away from Manhattan.

Audubon Greenwich was the National Audubon Society's first education center.  It is comprised of 285 acres with 7 miles of walking trails wending through a hardwood forest, old fields & orchards, and past a lake, streams and ponds.  The Kimberlin Nature Education Center, Nature Art Gallery, and Nature Store are also located here.

Of special interest for visitors from August – mid. November is the Hawk watch.  The Audubon Greenwich is located on a major migratory route for hawks and is one of the top places in New England to watch this annual migration-passing overhead.  Every October the Audubon has a Hawk Watch Festival & Green Bazaar to celebrate this phenomenon.

Retrace your steps to the intersection of Sound View Drive and Field Pt. Rd., continue straight on Field Pt. Rd.; at the intersection of Field Point Rd. and Railroad Ave., take a left on Railroad Ave., at the junction of Railroad Ave. and Arch St. take a left on Arch St to Greenwich Ave.

Greenwich Ave. – The Rodeo Drive of Connecticut

Greenwich Ave is the commercial heart of Greenwich.  In order to explore this picturesque downtown area it is best to park along Greenwich Ave.  In some respects this upscale shopping area feels more like a slice of Manhattan than a coastal town in New England.  Here you will find an anthology of specialty shops, designer boutiques, restaurants and cafes to enjoy.

Bendheim Gallery and the Art of Events

Located in the old Greenwich Town Hall on Greenwich Ave. amid the shops and restaurants is the Bendheim Gallery operated by the Greenwich Arts Council.  The Council presents shows of regional and local artists in various mediums including several juried shows in two large galleries. They also organize several popular annual events including: Kite Flying Festival in April, Art to the Avenue in May, Sand Blast in July, and Literary Lights: A Book Festival in November.

Putnam Cottage Spirit of the Revolution

To reach Putnam Cottage at the junction of Arch St. and Greenwich Ave., go straight across Greenwich Ave. to Havemmeyer La.; take a left toward Rte. 1 on Mason St.  At the junction of Mason St. and Rte. 1 (East Putnam Ave.) turn right and follow for several miles to Putnam Cottage, a bright red 17th c.  center chimney house that was once used as was used as a tavern and a meeting place for the local Freemasons.

Known as Knapp's Tavern during the Revolutionary War, the house has a long association with General Israel Putnam and his heroic escape from the British during the Revolutionary War.  As a matter of fact, it was the military headquarters for General Putnam during the Revolutionary War and where he hosted General Washington and his entourage for lunch. The Revolutionary War had a great impact on Greenwich which was often placed between British and American lines, many raids took place and this once quiet community sometimes referred to as "no man's land" was under siege until the end of the war.

Today the house is open Sundays and furnished with period treasures.  It is best to call ahead.

Bush Holley Historic Site – One House – Two Stories

Continue on East Putnam Ave. (Rte. 1) for one mile, take a right onto Strickland Rd., at the end of the road take a right, parking is located under the overpass.

The Bush Holley Historic Site located in the Cos Cob section of town was built in stages beginning in 1728 and has duel interpretations that offer two distinct historic presentations.

The Bush Family lived in the house from 1755 to 1848. They were successful in real estate ventures and as merchants.  David Bush lived in the house during the Revolutionary War and was arrested on suspicion of being loyal to the British mainly because the British did not damage his house like all the others during a particularly destructive raid.  He refused to take an oath of fidelity to the state two months after he was let out of jail.  To the extent of how David's suspected loyalty affected his relationships and the relationships of future generations with the people of Greenwich can only be pondered, but may have contributed to the next generation's failure to keep the Bush house.

Today four rooms in the museum are furnished to reflect the Bush household that included David and Sarah Bush, four relatives and four slaves from 1820-1825.  At this point in time the Bush Family was undergoing a transition from a very large family of 19 that once lived in the house to one of 8.  The status of the Bush's was beginning to change from a very wealthy family to one that was coping with the new post Revolutionary War economy.

The next chapter in the Bush Holley House involves the Cos Cob Art Colony that used the house as its base from the 1890's until the 1920's.  The house became a centerpiece for the development of American Art because it was here that leading American Impressionist artists gathered to discuss their work and to teach.  Hundreds of leading American Impressionist artists spent time here including Theodore Robinson (who studied with Monet), John Henry Twachtman, Childe Hassam, J. Alden Weir, and Ernest Lawson.

In addition to painters, the house also attracted writers and editors and became a center for intellectual discourse.  This great rambling house located across from the Cos Cob harbor and less than an hour by train from New York was ideal for most summer art and literary colonists.  The combination of water, the old shipyard, the quaint village of Cos Cob and the architecture made it a haven for impressionist artists.  The Colony was also successful because of the close relationships that were developed between the Holley family and the visiting artists and writers.

Five rooms are dedicated to the art colony years.  They have a splendid display of impressionist artwork from this period that was painted by visiting artists as well as beautifully appointed period pieces of furniture that reflect the comfortable lifestyle offered by the Holley Boarding House. The Cos Cob paintings that grace this elegant historic gem reflect the way things looked like here from the 1890's – the 1920's.  A visit to the Elmer Macrae Studio with its Japanese inspired artwork is a special treat.

Retrace your steps.  At the intersection of East Putnam Ave. (Rte. 1 North) and Strickland Ave., take a right onto East Putnam Ave.

Wild Acres & the Garden Education Center of Greenwich

At the intersection of East Putnam Ave. and Orchard St (2nd. light) turn left on Orchard St., proceed .2 miles, turn right on Bible St. follow for .7 miles; the entrance is on the left.

Once called Wild Acres, The Garden Education Center belonged to Colonel Robert Montgomery, owner of Price Waterhouse and his wife Nell  from 1922 – 1952, when it was donated to the town.  The Montgomery's spent 30 years developing the landscape and establishing the Pinetum, a collection of 850 types of conifers.  In 1945, 200 conifers were gifted to the Botanical Gardens for their new conifer garden.

Today the Center is located on nearly 200 acres and offers a greenhouse, gift shop and art gallery with monthly changing shows in the mansion.  The land is laced with individually designed gardens, woodland trails, two ponds, 80 conifer specimens, including the Sargent Weeping Hemlock, the R. H. Montgomery Spruce, and many species of ornamental trees and shrubs, that offset the conifers. Two interesting collections include the peony collection along the mansion's terrace and the primrose collection.

Educational programs and two major annual events; the May Gardeners' Market and June's Grandiflora Garden Tour make this a perfect spot for garden enthusiasts.

Cruising Legendary Long Island Sound

To visit Cove Harbor and experience Sound Water Environmental Center, take exit 8 off of I- 95, go straight off the exit onto South State St., at the next light take a right onto Canal St., at the intersection of Canal St. and Dock St., take a left onto Dock Street.  At the intersection of Shippen Ave., Elm St., and Cove Rd., proceed straight onto Cove Rd. and follow it to the end.  At the intersection of Cove Rd. and Weed Ave. bear right to Cove Harbor.

Beautifully located on Long Island Sound in the 1840 Holley House, this leading Environmental Center offers a variety of touch tanks and aquariums.  Special exhibits detail the wonders and beauty of Long Island Sound with an emphasis on the importance of protecting this very important bi-coastal natural resource between CT and NY.  Display areas of horseshoe crabs and diamond back terrapin turtles -- the only turtle able to live in brackish water are favorites of young and old alike.  The Center offers a variety of programs year round as well as summer camps.  The Center is open year-round and is free to the public; however from Memorial Day to Labor Day a parking pass (available at the park) is required for Cove Island Park.

To experience the legendary landscapes and seascapes of Long Island Sound, reserve a 2 1/2 -hour cruise on the 80 foot three-masted Schooner that is styled after a 19th century Chesapeake Bay sharpie schooner operated by SoundWaters.  The Schooner sails from April – November on selected weekends.  An afternoon sail is perfect for family fun, educators are on board to answer questions and tell tales of the Sound.  A romantic sunset sail that promises sightseeing on the sound without traffic jams is the perfect way to start an evening out in Stamford. A week long schooner camp is also offered where you will interact with live creatures, deploy the trawl, camp out on a local island and discover the wonders of Long Island Sound.  The Schooner is also available for charter.  The Schooner is located off I-95, EX. 7 at the Brewer Yacht Haven Marina, Dock S1.To continue your tour, retrace your steps along Cove Rd. to Elm St.

Treasure Hunting – Stamford Style

At the intersection of Dock St. and Canal St., take a right onto Dock Street. In this general area you will find many sprawling antique galleria's and multi-dealer antique centers that display the wares of hundreds of handpicked dealers offering a seemingly endless array of antiques and collectibles from around the world.  Endless vignettes of furniture and accessories, including architectural pieces, smalls and much more from all periods are waiting to be discovered.

Downtown Stamford & Town Center

Retrace your steps along Cove Rd., and proceed on Elm St., at the junction of South State St. and Elm St., go straight and go under the overpass for I-95.  At the next light take a left on to Tresser Blvd.  Parking is available at the Stamford Town Center at 300 Atlantic St. located on the right.  Stamford Town Center encompasses a mix of 100 retailers, services and restaurants that offer something for everyone

Stamford is a cosmopolitan city with a sea breeze creatively balancing the synthesis of trendy style, culture, and old established traditions.  The mix of new and old in this vibrant city center is so appealing because of its many intriguing restaurants with diverse cultural offerings on the menu and unique shops. The best way to discover and enjoy the highlights of Stamford is to take a stroll through the center of the city along Atlantic Ave., Broad St., Washington Blvd., and Main St.

The Rich Forum - A Legacy of Entertainment

After parking, walk to Tresser Blvd., take a right on Tresser Blvd., walk one block and take a right on Atlantic Ave.   On the corner you will see The Rich Forum, operated by the Stamford Center for The Arts and named after The F.D. Rich Co. who played a pivotal role in the redevelopment of the city. The Forum was opened in 1992, as an arts and communications center and includes the Truglia Theatre and the Leonhardt Studio for more intimate performances.  The Rich Forum is rented by NBC Universal Television Distribution and is rented to "The Jerry Springer Show," as well as those of Maury Povich and Steve Wilkos (the former Springer bodyguard who now has his own program).

Veterans Park & The Old Stamford Town Hall

Continuing along, you will pass Veterans Park with its refreshing fountain and gardens that provide a quiet spot for respite in the city.

Across the street, built in 1905, you will see the Beaux Arts styled Old Stamford Town Hall that is flanked with Corinthian columns, and topped with a large clock tower. Inside it has floor to ceiling windows, terrazzo tile flooring, historic murals, a grand staircase, a Czechoslovakian glass ceiling, and scagliola plaster on the lobby walls.  On the National Register of Historic Places, the restoration of the building included the construction of a two and a half story glass enclosure facing Heritage Park known as "the sail" and a sculpture garden.

The Palace Theater – Acclaimed as "CT's Most Magnificent"

A little further along the way you will pass The Palace Theater operated by the Stamford Center for the Arts, and noted as being one of the premier destinations for world class entertainment along Fairfield County's "Gold Coast".  Originally designed as a vaudeville house by Thomas Lamb it was acclaimed as "Connecticut's Most Magnificent" when it opened in 1927. It was restored and reopened in 1983 for live theatre, opera, dance and concerts. Additionally, art exhibits are displayed in the Sackler Gallery.

In a typical season, the theater hosts more than 500 events.  Premier performing arts groups make the Palace Theater their home and include: Ballet School of Stamford, CT Grand Opera and Orchestra, Connecticut Ballet, Namaskaar Foundation, Stamford Symphony Orchestra, and Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic.

Take A Peek -- Stamford Campus Art Gallery

At the intersection of Atlantic St. and Broad St., take a left onto Broad Street.  You will find the entrance to the University of Connecticut Stamford Gallery on the corner of Broad St, and Washington Blvd at 1 University Place.  This light and airy gallery provides an excellent space for the display of artwork in all mediums and on all levels.  Visitors to the Gallery will be delighted by the high caliber exhibitions of regional artists, as well as works by Stamford faculty, staff, and students. The Gallery is closed on Saturdays during summer months.

Alive at Five

At the junction of Broad St. and Washington Blvd., take a left on Washington Blvd.; at the junction of Washington Blvd. & Main St. take a left onto Main Street.  On your left you will see Columbus Park, home of the Alive at 5 Concerts that take place here on the Heineken Stage. Alive at 5 is produced by the Stamford Downtown Special Services District and the City of Stamford and sponsored by many downtown businesses.  This concert series featuring live performances by national and regional headliners takes place in June, July and August on Thursday evenings at 5:00 pm.

Stained Glass and Greek Revival Architecture – a Glimpse of the Past

At the junction of Main St. and Atlantic St., take a right onto Atlantic St.  Along the way you will pass the Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist founded 1854.  In 2009, the title of Minor Basilica was granted to the church. The present Basilica was built in 1875 and at the time was the largest stone church in southern Connecticut. The stained glass windows of this Basilica form one of the largest collections of 19th century church stained glass on the East Coast. The Basilica is one of Stamford’s lasting artistic treasures.

The Rectory next to the church was built in 1850 as a private home and later purchased by the Church. It is one of the architectural gems of early Stamford, because it is one of the last and finest local examples of the Greek Revival style of architecture that remains in the city.  A special historic note relates to the rectory that is believed to have provided a stop on the Underground Railroad prior to and during the Civil War, operated by James Daskam, a local greengrocer.

At the junction of Atlantic St. and Tresser Blvd., take a left on Tresser Blvd. Pick up your car to continue the tour.