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The Bush Holley House

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Bush Holley House
39 Strickland Road
Cos Cob, Connecticut 06807
Voice: 203-869-6899

The Bush-Holley House is the oldest building on the site. It is comprised of two separate buildings that were joined to form what is now called the Bush-Holley House. The first building, constructed circa 1728-1730, was a single-room building with an attic and cellar. The original purpose of this building is not known. The main house, constructed circa 1730-1733, is a two-story, center chimney, saltbox-style house with an attic and cellar. The two buildings were joined by a main entrance hall around 1770. The house was occupied by two generations of the Bush family, the wealthiest family in Greenwich in the late 18th century, from 1755 until 1848, when the home was sold in order to pay off business debts.

The Holley family purchased the house in 1884 and set up a boarding house primarily for artists and writers. Between 1890 and 1920, beginning with classes taught by John Henry Twachtman for students from New York's Art Students League, the house became the center of the Cos Cob art colony, the first art colony in Connecticut. The Historical Society purchased the house in 1957 from Constant Holley MacRae, widow of artist Elmer MacRae, and daughter of the last proprietor of the boarding house, Josephine Holley.

Upon entering the elegant parlor at Bush-Holley House, one immediately notices the updated Federal furnishings that Justus Luke Bush likely introduced in 1821 to welcome his bride, Sally St. John of Norwalk. Parlors were often decorated with the family's finest furnishings for entertaining and formal family gatherings.

Slaves were commonly housed in attics above kitchens in New England homes, along with other property the family needed to store, such as dried herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Four slaves remained in the household in 1821--Patience and her teenage son Cull, and Candice with her teenage son Jack. Connecticut slave law freed slaves born after 1784 upon reaching their 25th birthday.

The dining room was the center of the artists' intellectual life. The diverse philosophies and backgrounds of the painters, novelists, journalists, publishers, and performers who gathered at the boarding house stimulated lively discussions on social and aesthetic issues.



Pictures and information were provided by the Bush Holley House

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