History of Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut


The smaller towns of Greenwich:
Old Greenwich (site of the first settlement)
Cos Cob

Other neighborhoods:
Havemeyer Park
Quaker Ridge
Rock Ridge
Round Hill

The town was named after Greenwich, Kent, England.

1640 (July 18) -- Daniel Patrick and Robert Feakes, in the name of New Haven Colony, purchased all lands between the Asamuck and Potommuck brooks, in the area now known as Old Greenwich from the Siwanoy Indian "owners" for a sum of "twentie-five coates." It was the tenth town established in Connecticut between 1633 and 1640.

1642 -- for fear of not being protected by the New Haven colony, the Greenwich settlers signed an allegiance to the Dutch, who claimed control of the area.. The Dutch then made Greenwich a manor and Patrick and Feakes lords of the manor.

1642 - 1650 -- the settlement of Greenwich was officially part of the Dutch colony New Netherland.

1643-45  --  years of the Wappinger War.  At first, The Wappinger Indians and their allies almost overwhelmed the Dutch.

1644  --  two companies of Mohegan scouts and Connecticut colonists commanded by Captain John Underhil along with Dutch forces combined to attack a Siwanoy village near Greenwich, that killed almost 700 people.

1650 -- after settlement of a boundary dispute with the Dutch, Greenwich became once again part of the New Haven Colony.

1656 -- Greenwich was told by the New Haven jurisdiction to "fall in with Stamford."

1664 -- Greenwich asks the General Assembly in Hartford to be allowed to separate from Stamford.

1665 -- the General Assembly in Hartford declared Greenwich a separate township.

1672 -- from the native Americans, the so-called "27 Proprietors" bought land at what became known as "Horseneck." The land was laid out for home lots, divided and granted to the Proprietors.

1730  --  Bush-Holley House, a waterfront mansion, built on the historic Cos Cob Harbor. 

1749  --  Captain James Waring built his house nearby Mill Pond (aka, Strickland's Pond) in Cos Cob.  It still stands today.

Revolutionary War

1779 -- General Israel Putnam made a daring escape from British troops under General William Tryon at the Israel Knapp tavern while the British pillaged and looted Greenwich. Putnam went to to warn Stamford. "Putnam's Cottage" is now maintained as a museum by the Daughters of the American Revolution (243 East Putnam Avenue).

1826  --  Greenwich Academy, the oldest girls' school (though originally coeducational) in Connecticut, founded

1829 --  Samuel Lyons sold 3.5 acres on the southeast part of Great Captain Island to the federal government for the building of a lighthouse.

1848 -- the railroad arrives in Greenwich.

1860s  --  William M. "Boss" Tweed built his Americus Club at which he held lavish gatherings.

1871  --  the new Americus Club built.  It became the Indian Harbor Hotel after Boss Tweed's departure.  Commodore E. C. Benedict, a Wall Street financier,  later had the building torn down to make room for his new mansion.

1878  --  Boss Tweed dies in a New York City jail.

1889  -- the old Victorian clubhouse of the Riverside Yacht Club built at the mouth of Cos Cob Harbor.  (It was replaced in 1929 by the current clubhouse.)

1890-1920  --  the Cos Cobb mansion, the Bush-Holley House, became a boardinghouse for an art colony. The colony was summer home to American Impressionists Childe Hassam, Theodore Robinson, John Twachtman, J. Alden Weir, and their followers.

1890  -- the Civil War monument erected.

Wealthy New Yorkers and others (Benedict, Bruce, Converse, Gimble, Havemeyer, Mallory, Milbank , Rockefeller, and Teagle) started to build mansions in Greenwich, creating such areas as Belle Haven, Field Point Park, Byram Shore and Rock Ridge.

1893  -- the actor Edwin Booth (brother of Johns Wilkes Booth), who lived at the western end of the Mianus River railroad bridge, would jump off the train as it slowed down to cross the bridge. On the night of June 7 he misgauged his leap, landed in the river and drowned.

1895  --  Commodore E. C. Benedict had his mansion built at the mouth of Greenwich Harbor.

1900  --  at the top of Put's Hills, the Daughters of the American Revolution erecte an historical marker that reads: "This marks the spot where on February 26, 1779 General Israel Putnam, cut off from his soldiers and pursued by British cavalry, galloped down this rocky steep and escaped, daring to lead where not one of many hundred foes dared to follow."

1901  -- trolley tracks laid.

1901  --  Greenwich High School built, a gift from the "Sugar King," Henry O. Havemeyer.  Today it is home to the Board of Education.

1903  --  Greenwich Avenue paved with soft-colored bricks that gave the road the nickname the "Yellow Brick Road."

1905  --  the new town hall built, a gift of Robert Bruce and his sister Sarah. (Today it is home to the senior center.)

1905  -- at this time the Edgewood Inn was probably the largest and finest hostelry in Greenwich. (It was torn down in 1940.)  Another popular inn was the Maples, where Commodore E. C. Benedict had lived before building his Indian Harbor mansion. (It was torn down in 1967 to be replaced by Cheesebrough-Ponds, now Unilever.)

1909  --  R. A. C. Smith, founder of Connecticut Light and Power, bought the Miralta mansion (build 1902 around the edge of the oval racecourse in Field Point Park).

1910-1913  --  the mansion "Northway" build for heiress Laura Robinson on North Street (today the Greenwich 5th Avenue).

1911  --  the old Greenwich Country Club built with great views out over Long Island Sound.

1912  -- wealthy Belle Haven mansion owner W. T. Graham survived the sinking of the Titanic.

1915  -- Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946) had a falling out with James West over the military style of the Boy Scouts, set by Baden-Powell and West and left the movement.  Seton then founded the Woodcraft League of America. He had an estate in Cos Cob.  Today it is a preserve. The Montgomery Pinetum is nearby.

1919  -- the old Indian Harbor Yacht Club building burned down.

1920  --  the Spanish Mission-style cottage on North Street owned by iron and steel baron John Haldane Flagler burned down.

1925  --  Ye Old Greenwich Inn in Sound Beach (now known as Old Greenwich) burned down.

1926   -- founding of the Greenwich Country Day School. (Former president George Herbert Walker Bush attended the school; his boyhood home on Grove Lane.)

by the late 1920s  --  the trolley tracked had disappeared.

1929  --  the Wall Street crash brought the era of the inns of Greenwich to an end. 

1931 --  The Historical Society of Greenwich founded to collect and preserve the history of the town. 

1933  --  Greenwich adopted the representative town meeting (RTM) as its legislative unit.

1938 --  the Merritt Parkway cut through the northern section of Greenwich.

late 1930s  --  the huge Percy A. Rockefeller residence, Owenoke Farm, demolished.

1940 (April)  --  Representative Town Meeting (RTM) accepted what is now called Binney Park.

post World War II --   this period witnessed the dissolution of many of the mansions into smaller building lots that were then taken by commuters to New York City who did not want to live in the City.

1950 - 2000  --  increasing efforts to conserve both historic buildings and park land as well as to acquire more park land.

1950  --  Bobby Kennedy married Ethel Skakel at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church.

1953  --  RTM accepted the gift of the Montgomery Pinetum.

1957  --  I-95 cut through Greenwich on the south.

1960  --  dedication of the Ernest Thompson Seton Reservation for Boy Scouts. 

1966   -- RTM approved funds for the new Greenwich High School.

1966   --  the Town of Greenwich acquired most of Great Captain Island.

1970 --  Great Captain Island Light was extinguished and replaced by an automatic light.

1973 --  Greenwich purchased the Captain Island lighthouse and the surrounding 2.6 acres.

1975  --  fifteen-year-old Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club in her Greenwich, Connecticut backyard with Michael and Tommy Skakel, nephews of Ethel and Robert Kennedy, as suspects.

1983  -- the Mianus River bridge on I-95 collapsed killing three people.

1990 -- the 350th Anniversary of Greenwich.

2000  --  the census finds there are 61,101 residents in the town of Greenwich.

2000  --  Michael Skakel, nephew of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, surrendered to face charges that he beat a childhood friend to death 24 years before. He was convicted. 

2002  --  Greenwich forced to opens its parks to the public.

(Source: histories of Greenwich: www.rootsweb.com/~ctfairfi/pages/greenwich/greenwich_hstry.htm - 12k - Oct 13, 2004; and http://www.greenwichchamber.com/about/history.asp and http://www.greenwichct.org/RTM/rtHistory.asp )

William J. Clark.  2002. Images of America: Greenwich. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.

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