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7. The 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.