Robert M. Bruce was born in New York City on July 4, 1822. His roots can be traced back to the great Robert Bruce, who emancipated the Scots from England. He developed a love of business early in his life. He first went to work in the general dry goods business. Later, he formed his own company - aptly called "Bruce Co." He was involved in the cotton business, dealing quietly with the South during the Civil War. Bruce managed to prosper even though he was a Northerner. He was even a member of the Cotton Exchange in New York.
Once he built his fortune, he moved to Greenwich, living in a mansion which was located where the Bruce Museum is today overlooking Greenwich Harbor. Bruce was very active in civic affairs. He served on the town's military committee during the Civil War. Robert Bruce helped found the Greenwich Savings Bank and the Greenwich Gas & Electric Company. He served on the board of the savings bank for 38 years.
Robert Bruce and his sister, Sarah, were best known for donating $250,000 worth of buildings and property to the Town. They built the original Town Hall, the Greenwich General Hospital and donated the site for the Bruce Museum. They also built the Emily Bruce Home for orphaned children. The Bruces donated money to Mount Sinai Hospital, the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled, as well as hospitals in Parborough NC and Washington DC.
Their benevolence was not ostentatious, and they quietly did other good works. Perhaps the most touching act of charity was the anonymous donation of hundreds of dollars for turkeys, shoes and clothing for the needy during the holidays.
Coincidently, Robert Bruce was born on July 4, 1822, and died on July 4, 1908! This was a year after his wife died.
He and his sister will always be remembered for their unselfish generosity.