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Current Exhibitions

Greenwich Faces the Great War


October 1, 2014 to March 22, 2015

World War I marked the beginning of modern nation states, modern warfare technology and the emergence of the United States as an international power. Commemorating the centennial of the 1914 onset of that shattering event in Europe, the Greenwich Historical Society will launch a multi-faceted project beginning with an exhibition mounted in the Storehouse. Compelling images, artifacts and documents will illustrate the diverse experiences of military personnel, volunteers, and civilians alike. For the first time in the Storehouse Gallery, touch-screen technology will be used to enhance the visitor experience through supplementary shared audio and visual resources including personal remembrances, photographs, newspaper reports, wartime letters, popular songs and more.

The project will also include a special tour and temporary installation in Bush-Holley House demonstrating how Greenwich inhabitants supported the war effort at home, along with a World War I-period, patriotic home vegetable garden (on view during the 2014 growing season). Online resources for educators and students and a menu of public events featuring lectures, workshops, and performances will round out the program.

From the discourse preceding the war to the actions and influence of its citizens once engaged, Greenwich provides rich material and multiple perspectives on a conflict that to this day influences international politics and continues to shape history.

October 1, 2014 to March 22, 2015

Exhibition hours: noon to 4:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday

Storehouse Gallery

Admission: Free to members. $10 for adults; $8 for students and seniors.
Admission is free to the public the first Wednesday of each month.

Learn more about Greenwich and The Great War In this series of essays featured in conjunction with the exhibition

This project was supported by planning and implementation grants from

and gifts to the Greenwich Historical Society’s annual fund, the Greenwich Historic Trust, including special underwriting by Regina and Mario Gabelli, Jessica and Drew Guff, Davidde and Ron Strackbein and Reba and Dave Williams. Additional financial support was provided by members’ gifts to the World War I Exhibition Patrons Council and by the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich.

The Holley-MacRae War Garden

During World War I the strategic importance of food was reinforced over and over again. Both enemy and Allied forces sought to control the other’s food supply, and the entrance of the United States into the war in 1917 required securing even greater amounts of food for U.S. troops and Allied forces alike. President Woodrow Wilson established the United States Food Administration in 1917 and appointed Herbert Hoover to head the new agency. A national campaign–the first of its kind–was launched to promote home gardening, canning and food rationing. Emphasis was placed on growing crops that could be canned and stored, such as tomatoes. Crops not consumed at the local level would be preserved and shipped to Europe for both military consumption and humanitarian aid.

The residents of Greenwich took “doing their bit” for the war seriously. They established “war gardens” in backyards, on estates and even in public spaces and set up a Canning Kitchen where produce was processed for personal use, as well as for civilians in need and for troops. In 1917, canning centers were started in various sections of town to teach people how to put up their own produce. In fact, Holley Boarding House proprietress Constant MacRae, having gardened and canned what she grew for many years, taught canning classes at the Cos Cob School on “Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.”

This WWI war garden has been re-created using the 1918 diary of resident and Cos Cob art colony artist Elmer MacRae, preserved in the Historical Society’s William E. Finch, Jr. Library & Archives. The garden represents the kinds of crops the MacRaes would have grown during the war years from 1914–1919 to feed themselves and the patrons of their boarding house.

Permanent Exhibition

The Bush-Holley House is currently open to the public through guided tours. The house museum has a dual interpretation including documentation and presentation of two significant periods in the history of the house: the Colonial Period when the Bush family was in residence from 1790 to 1825 and the Cos Cob art colony from 1890 to 1920. Eight evocative, well-documented rooms tell a story of change over time, beginning with the turn of the century and moving backward in time to the Federal era.

Bush-Holley Historic Site is a member of the Connecticut Art Trail, a partnership of 15 world-class museums and historic sites across the state. Discover collections rich in history and heritage, including European masterpieces, American Impressionism, ancient art and contemporary culture. Visit www.arttrail.org for information about member museums.