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Greenwich's Bush-Holley House To Get Facelift

GREENWICH, Conn. – Walking through worn wooden doorways and over creaky floorboards at Greenwich Historical Society’s Bush-Holley House, Executive Director Debra Meckey pointed out soggy plaster and water-damaged ceilings in the town’s only National Historic Landmark.

“This house belongs to the community,” said Meckey. “It’s a window into the history of our town. Built in 1730, survived the Revolution, came to life again for artists at the turn of the 20th century, and today it’s a museum. It has a wonderful legacy, and we’re hoping the community can help us in any way they can.”

The society just received two construction grants totaling $71,500 to go toward a project to renovate aspects of the Revolutionary-era home.

No significant restorations have been made since the 1960s. Over the years, wooden shingles have visibly begun to rot. In the interior, caved plaster in one of the storage rooms and in the dining area downstairs show signs of water damage. Plastic buckets line the floors to collect water that leaks in along the steep, slanted stairs to the attic.

“We’re in desperate need of a new roof,” said Meckey. “Right now, parts of it are wrapped in plastic, and there are leaks.” She said the project was to begin in June after school groups do spring tours and to be finished by early October.

When the project is complete, the result will lead to a reinterpretation of the site and how it was used during the Cos Cob Art Colony area. A dormer built on the second floor during that period and removed in the early 1960s will be restored to re-create the studio space.

“We have so many historic photographs and records kept by the family who lived in the house and their attempts to go out and hire someone to do architectural drawing for how to add a dormer on because they were looking to turn a bedroom into an art studio … the whole house was used as a studio by several artists,” said Meckey.

American Impressionist Childe Hassam made a painting of a window that is being restored. Meckey said it is part of the evidence the historical society used in its plans. “When we’re done we’ll actually have the window that he painted."

The work will be financed in part by the state with Community Investment Act funds from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. The total cost of the project is $230,000. To cover the remainder of the cost, the Historical Society will mount a campaign later this month to seek contributions from Greenwich residents.

To learn more about the restoration campaign, visit the historical society online.

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