History of Greenwich
Greenwich Connecticut is world-renowned for its mystique, coveted beauty and image of affluence. Diverse in its appeal, Greenwich holds a highly distinguished place in American history. Many of the names and places around town have great historical significance, unbeknownst to many who scurry by during their daily routines.
The icon of perfection that Greenwich is today came to fruition during the twentieth century with the social and economic boom of the town. This growth was achieved by the corporate and social leaders who have come here most recently as well as by the many families in town who are descendents of Greenwich┬╣s early settlers. Operating under a traditional New England town government and blessed with a sophisticated network of dedicated volunteers, Greenwich is like no other place in the world.
Over fifty square miles in size, Greenwich is bordered by Stamford on the east, the Long Island Sound on the south, and Westchester County, New York on the north and west. The town has many distinct sections, each with its own personality and past. The historical development of each of these sections is the story of how Greenwich evolved from the coastal farming and fishing community of the early American colonists to the bustling and intriguing waterfront town that it is today.
- Laddin's Rock Sanctuary is the site of the legend of Dutch settler, Cornelius Labden. In 1642, Ladben rode his horse off a cliff to avoid capture by the Indians who had just tomahawked and scalped his wife and daughter right before his eyes. Today, Laddin's Rock is an 18-acre preserve on the Greenwich/Stamford border.
- Post Road Iron Works on Putnam Avenue is the site of a former toll gate for wagons and carriages traveling from New York to Boston between 1792 and 1854. Putnam Avenue at that time was called Toll Gate Road.
- The Second Congregational Church on the Post Road was designed in 1856 by Jewish architect, Leopold Eidlitz, inspired by the design of the historic synagogue in his boyhood home of Prague.
- In 1884, a group of capitalists purchased land in anticipation of developing Greenwich's first residence park. The price of the land was $46,000. Today this part of town is known as Belle Haven. Among the investors were Nelson Bush, Augustus Mead, John Barrett, James McCutcheon, Robert Bruce, Thomas Mayo, Nathaniel Witherell and Julian Curtiss.
- Armstrong Court is the site of the former switch station for the Greenwich Trolley, which ran through town between 1901 and 1927.
- The Greenwich High School playing fields are the site of the former Ten Acres, a big open pond where long-skirted ladies and their escorts would arrive by Trolley for a day of ice skating in the early 1900's.
- Saks Fifth Avenue on Greenwich Avenue is the former site of both F.W. Woolworth and the Greenwich Library.
- Greenwich Avenue, originally called the Road to Piping Point, was paved with soft-colored bricks in the early twentieth century and given the nickname "Yellow Brick Road".
- Greenwich Academy, founded in 1826 and originally coeducational, is the oldest girls' school in Connecticut.
- The locations of Greenwich High School have been The Board of Education Havemeyer Building (1891-1906), the low-income housing building on Mason Street (1906-1926) and the Town Hall building on Field Point Road (1926-1970). The present High School is located on Hillside Road, at the bottom of the famous Putnam Hill. High school students living in Old Greenwich in the early twentieth century attended school in the building that is now the Old Greenwich Elementary School.
- Robert Kennedy and Ethel Skakel were married at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church on Greenwich Avenue
- The Eagle Hill School Boulders property was the former home of Charles William Post of the Postum Cereal Company.
- The name Semloh Farm, on the arched entry to the Stanwich Club, is the backward spelling of the name Holmes, a former owner of the property.
- In 1957, Montgomery Pinetum (meaning collection of Pines) was dedicated as a park in Cos Cob with 80 specimens of conifer (cone-bearing) plants on the land dedicated to the town by Colonel Robert Montgomery.
- Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were married in the Hunt club, formerly located on Riversville Road in Glenville. Today, the location is a private residence.
- Chickahominy, a small community of Italian descendants was reportedly given its name by Civil War veterans who fought in Virginia in the valley of the Chickahominy River.
- The Belle Haven Club was founded in 1889 by the residents of this luxury waterfront area. It was originally called The Greenwich Casino Association and later called The Beach Club. The name Casino was chosen based on an original meaning of the word - a social gathering place - not one which provided gambling.
- The Greenwich Library building was once a Franklin Simon department store.
- Binney Park in Old Greenwich was donated by Edwin Binney of Binney & Smith, makers of Crayola crayons.
- The Greenwich Representative Town Meeting (RTM) was organized in 1933.
- WGCH Radio began broadcasting in 1964.
- Prior to 1970, Greenwich Avenue had two-way traffic.
- The Merritt Parkway ceased toll collections in 1988.
- In 1990, Greenwich celebrated its 350th birthday.
- In 2001, a state Supreme Court ruling overturned Greenwich's residents-only beach policy. After a long, highly-publicized lawsuit filed against the town by Stamford resident, Brenden P. Leydon, the court concluded that such a restriction was constitutionally prohibited by both the United States and Connecticut Constitutions.
(currently Arts & Senior Center)
(currently Town Hall)
(currently Saks Fifth Avenue)