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Greenwich's Bruce Museum

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One of my favorite places in Town has always been the Bruce Museum.  When I first came here in 1976, I was intrigued by the nature dioramas.  Loved to take my family there.  I even volunteered one time to escort my daughter's class to the museum ("Not cool, Dad!" my daughter told me!)  For this particular historical blog, I thought I'd research the museum's origin.

When banker, cotton broker, and Greenwich resident Robert Bruce died in 1909, he surprisingly bequeathed his house and $50,000 to the Town of Greenwich for a museum that would highlight natural history, historical items and art.  The house had originally been built by Reverend Francis L. Hawks, and coincidentally was known as "Hawk's Nest" because of its location on a hill. ( It was noted that a lot of hawks congregated in the area.) 

The Town held onto the Bruce money for several years until they could figure out how to start a museum.  An article was printed in the newspaper describing the bequest, and asking for help with creating a museum.  Local resident Dr. Edward Bigelow answered the call.  He lived in Old Greenwich, was the publisher of a small magazine called the "Guide To Nature", and ran a nature summer camp for girls.  He had been on an expedition with the New York Zoological Society's Dr. William BeeBee, and was considered a notable naturalist. Bigelow wrote many articles on natural science. The Town made him the museum's first Curator. 

Dr. Bigelow was Curator from 1912 to 1936.  On his watch, the Museum was renovated and a caretaker's cottage was completed in 1918.  He also added many art exhibits. (Bigelow noticed that whenever they had special events or exhibits, attendance increased dramatically.) He loved to lecture on science, and is credited with expanding the Museum's programs.

Initially, his budget was very meager - only $5,000 per year from the BET.  His salary was only $100 per month.  Fortunately, he had other resources to fall back on - money from writing and lecturing.  Bigelow spent his own money on specimens for the Museum.  Not only did he travel to Arizona and New Mexico to collect specimens, but he also traveled to South America, the West Indies, Panama and Dominica.  He added live sloths, squirrels, snakes, parrots, mice and monkeys.  When a baby monkey was born, attendance increased exponentially!

In addition to the specimens he was able to collect on his expeditions, Bigelow received minerals from a sculpture supply company.  The Smithsonian Institute donated a collection of shells and mollusks.  Individuals, as well as the National Academy of Design, donated paintings.  Indian (Native-American) ephemera was collected, but the collection was so big that much of it had to be placed in storage.  A small collection of Indian jewelry was exhibited.  For a time, the Greenwich Society of Art held its annual show at the museum.  Dr. Bigelow had a case built to honor Ernest Thompson Seton, who started Seton's Indians.  Dr. Bigelow even arranged to lend out movies of his expeditions around the world. 


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OLD ENTRANCE CIRCA 1967

COURTESY OF THE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

Because there was no money for coal, the museum closed to the public during the winter months.  He couldn't even leave specimens in jars filled with formaldehyde in the building because they would crack in the cold.  The staff still worked in the building, but had to contend with the cold.   There wasn't a lot of money available originally.   A lot of school groups and camp groups came to the museum regularly, but families and individuals were only attracted by special events. 

Before long, Dr. Bigelow realized the public was keenly interested in new exhibits and programs.  Like any good business man, he knew repeat business was the key to success.  The more attendance, the more money was generated.  He started to collect unusual specimens.  These included a two-headed calf, a two-bodied rabbit and a snake with two heads!  These only lasted a while, but drew a lot of attention.  They were eventually removed.

The Museum also served as a trout hatchery.  Egg sacks were placed in a series of trays and cold water poured over them to facilitate hatching.  A micro-projection apparatus (arc light) was set up to project and magnify the egg sacks.  The state hatchery provided the eggs, and these were eventually let loose in the water. 

All the changes in exhibits and programs eventually helped the museum's bottom line.  Attendance began to increase.  Dr. Bigelow retired in 1937 and passed away in 1938.  Curator Paul Griswold Howes took over the helm. 

Paul Howes was born in Stamford in 1892.  He studied at Heidelberg and Harvard, and had traveled six times to Europe to study.  In 1913, a very young Howes went on an expedition to the Andes  with the American Museum of Natural History, and helped establish the first South American research field station.  By 1918, be was the Curator at Bruce Museum under Dr. Bigelow.  When Bigelow retired, Howes became Director.  He ended up authoring 8 books and numerous magazine articles.  Paul Howes continued improving Bruce Museum.  He was responsible for adding many exhibits.  Many items were taken from his own, private collection. Since he was proficient in taxidermy, he was able to collect and stuff many animals to add to the natural scenes.  He also took many photos and created many films.  As luck would have it, the museum received a windfall for some damage caused by the construction of I-95 in the mid-1950s.  This was used to build an art gallery wing on the back of the main building in 1959.  Another patron donated $1000, but this was the exception rather than the rule. Howes stayed until 1966 when he retired.

 A direct descendant of Kit Carson, Ray Owen,  took over after Howes in 1967 and remained until 1978.  There were only 6 people on staff, and he brought in volunteers to help run the museum.  He also helped start the Museum Shop. Exhibits were added, and lectures were presented.  A Junior Art Show was added.  Owen improved the programming, and brought in many special exhibits from around the world.  In terms of physical plant improvements, he improved the lighting, installed alarms and closed-circuit television, added a public address system, and added air conditioning. He even organized the Associates (Friends) of Bruce Museum.

John B. Clark was Director from 1979 to 1992.  He'd worked at the Morris Museum of Modern Art and Science in Morristown NJ and the Stamford Museum.  Clark was the Curator of the geology and mineralogy collection.   When he came to Bruce Museum, he thought it was very small, with very little storage space.  Most everything was out on loan as exhibits.   He had a large sign erected so that commuters could see it from the train.   This drew people's attention to the museum.

Clark discovered that the old building was in need of repair.  It was not attractive.  The floor was covered with a black and white checkerboard tile.  The gallery rooms were all painted a different color - pink, candy yellow, robin egg blue, and lavender.  The windows were boarded up with wood and painted a battleship grey!  Clark wanted to remodel the space, but he needed to come up with a vision.  Would the Bruce be a children's , art, science or family museum?  Would the emphasis be on programs or exhibits?  After much consideration, he decided it should be a family museum.

John Clark managed to get assistance from two prominent women in the community.  Anne von Stuelnagel from the Board of the Greenwich Arts Society offered her assistance.  Sharon Feissel (from the Junior Women's Club) also helped with the Museum Shop. The Town increased its funding to $140,000.  Clark decided to increase the number of supporters and the Bruce Museum Association was formed.  Even though the museum only had $15,000 in assets, its financial position was about to improve!

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TYPICAL DIORAMA ABOUT LOCAL SIWANOY INDIANS

COURTESY OF THE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


The first step in remodeling the Bruce Museum involved transforming one of the galleries into the museum shop.  Clark used some of the existing cabinets to build new ones.  Henry Chitwood, Chairman of the Board of Bruce Library, lent the museum $3,000 for renovation.  As more and more people came to see the exhibits, more money was raised and the loan was paid off.  The Connecticut Commission on the Arts also gave the Museum several grants.

In 1981, Joseph and Olga Hirschhorn opened a National Tour of their (world renowned) scuptures at the Bruce.  This was the first time a professionally mounted exhibit was sponsored by the museum.  The main event was a benefit for the museum which included a progressive dinner, and wine, dessert and dancing at the Bruce. Hirshhorn had some of the old tile replaced with carpet.  This is not the last time the Hirschhorns would help out the museum.  The collection was eventually relocated to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

One program that really put the museum on the map was the Dinosaur Exhibit.  Jim Gray (1939 - 2006), an African-American artist from New Jersey, had sculpted large dinosaurs from automobile parts.  People came to view the art by the thousands.     Another popular program was a Ukranian Egg Exhibit, which was shown around Easter time.  People could come in and learn how to "blow out" eggs.  Public interest was piqued, and the institution established itself as a real family museum.

As time went on, Clark felt it was time to re-design the building. When Clark approached the BET for funding, he was told to seek private funding.  This freed him to undertake a large capital campaign. The Greenwich community answered the call.  An architectural firm was hired to come up with a functional design.  Ground was broken by the Pavarini Company in December 1992.  Since the head of the company was a Greenwich resident, he took a keen interest in the project.  The museum had to be emptied, and all items stored away for a year-and-a-half.  It took 30 truckloads to remove all the items.  A red brick building on Elm Street offered by Fleet Bank provided 7,000 square feet of storage.  The Museum only had to pay $1000 per month for utilities.  Fleet Bank also donated $50,000 in furniture to the museum.  Bruce Museum was closed for a year-and-a-half.

The project was not without its problems.  First of all, there were no blueprints for the building, which had been built in 1853.  There was no solid footing under one section since it was built on clay.  During construction, asbestos was found in the walls. The building had to be made ADA compliant. Photographs were taken to document the old building.  Once everything was removed, the museum staff and Board held a construction party.  Construction was completed in June 1993, and the museum officially opened in September 1993.  The cost was about $7-million.

One objective was to increase office space, which they did. In effect, the Museum doubled its size to 16,000 square feet.  The Museum was redesigned to have an Animal Hall, a Geology Hall and a Fossil Room.   There were not as many dioramas, the Museum gift shop was expanded and more space for paintings was created.   More programs were offered, including an art bizarre of sorts.  Once a year artists set up booths and sell their creations on the Museum site during the Outdoor Arts Festival.

From 1995 to 2000, Hollister Sturges III served as Director of the Bruce.  Sturges was the first art professional to be employed as Director.  His main achievement was to develop the museum's art collection, and obtain accreditation for the museum.  It became the second most visited art museum in Connecticut.  Noted experts on art came to lecture, which attracted many people.  A dinner lecture series was even created.  The Renaissance Ball was started as a major fund raiser.  The goal was to create a larger space for art, science and the permanent collection.  Much of the collection was still in storage. 


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NEW ENTRANCE TO BRUCE MUSEUM CIRCA 1993

COURTESY OF THE ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


As the museum improved its facilities, it became a venue for more important art exhibitions.  Bruce Museum was chosen for a Japanese exhibit (2002), an African art exhibit, and loans from the National Gallery in Washington DC and the National Museum of American Art.  In the late 1990s, it hosted the Linda McCartney photo exhibit.  An internship program was started for young scholars, who were interested in a museum career.

Hollister Sturges was dismissed in April 2000 under controversial circumstances.  Homer McK Rees was retired from the financial world, and was approached to serve as Interim Director.  He later served on the Board of the Bruce Museum and served as the Treasurer.  In April 2000, he took over the helm.

Rees was all business.  He reduced the size of the unwieldy Board of Directors, and streamlined their duties. It became less of a management board, and more of a governing board - the way it was meant to operate.  He reviewed the performance of the staff, and had their salaries increased.  Rees was able to apply his business expertise and philosophy to improve operations.

Homer McK Rees stayed for about a year-and-a-half until Peter Sutton was hired. Sutton graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, and earned an MBA and PhD at Yale.  Job experience included work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.  He brought a strong art background to the job, and worked hard to promote the art collection.  (Greenwich has a high concentration of art collectors due to its proximity to New York City.)

Sutton had to restore confidence in the museum, and guide the museum after the reorganization of the Board.  He had to reclaim his role as manager, specifically hiring and firing, managing the budget and administering policy.  Private fund raising had to be increased to meet the demand, especially through endowments.  Sutton also expanded other programs in the museum, especially science.  He utilized the Brucemobile and Seaside Museum to reach out to young students.  The Museum Council - volunteers who help with the art collection - worked with the Director to keep it relevant.

Peter Sutton has been a real "hands-on" manager.  He has been actively involved in long-term planning.  This involves looking at renovation and expansion, as well as the use of multiple sites.  He has managed to increase attendance tremendously.  And his enthusiasm has been contagious!

Bruce Museum has come a long way since the Curator had to collect items for exhibits and personally build display cases. Individuals donate money, as well as their personal items, to underwrite exhibits.  Volunteers serve as docents and help with programs. The general populace has embraced the Museum, and many people have given their time, wealth and talent to preserving this wonderful educational and cultural institution.  The future looks very bright!


SOURCES

Clark, J.: The Bruce Museum;  Greenwich Library Oral History Project, Greenwich CT: 1955

Howes, P.: The Bruce Museum: The First Fifty Years: Greenwich Library Oral History Project, Greenwich CT 1978

Mortimer, H et al: The Bruce Museum: A Century of Change; Greenwich Library Oral History Project, Greenwich CT, 2007.

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

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If you've ever turned from Shore Road down Tomac Avenue in Old Greenwich, you may have noticed a white wall with painted images of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs separating 31 Shore Road from 3 Tomac Court.  I searched our newspaper index to see if I could find an article that had any information. Couldn't find anything.   I then decided to try and contact the owner of the wall.  This wasn't as easy as you'd think!   I couldn't tell who owned the wall.  So like any good Librarian, I checked out Google Maps to find the addresses of both properties, and used the Reverse Phone Directory to find some names and phone numbers.  I got no answer at either address, so had to leave my phone number.

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SNOW WHITE MURAL

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

After several days of phone tag, I received a call from a gentleman who lived at 3 Tomac Court.  He told me that Lorraine and Fred Cofone on Shore Road had the wall painted, and that there was a very interesting story behind it.  Finally, I was able to get Lorraine Cofone on the phone, and she was very helpful.  She explained much of the history, and told me that her neighbor at the time had called the newspaper.  A reporter came down, interviewed them and took some pictures.  The article and photo appeared in the Thursday, November 20, 1975, edition of the Village Gazette.

According to the newspaper, the Cofones had painted the wall white, and it looked very plain.  When Lorraine asked her husband, Fred, what they should do about it, he suggested a painting of Snow White.  They had a 16-month son at the time, and they had it painted for him.

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SNOW WHITE MURAL NEAREST TO TOMAC ROAD

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was an animated fantasy developed by Walt Disney in 1937. Most of us know the story of the stepmother who tries to kill her, the Dwarfs who take her in, and the handsome Prince who awakens her with a kiss.  Disney was awarded an honorary Oscar, and the movie was nominated for the best musical score in 1938.  It was added to the National Film Registry in 1989, and is considered one of the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Films of All Time.

The wall was first painted in 1975 by an artist, Marcia Tartaglia.  Marcia was a Cos Cob resident and friend of the family.  She graduated from Greenwich High School, had studied art at Norwalk Community College, worked at the Carnival Card Shop and designed labels for a line of seed packets. Residents may remember the images she painted for the Bon-Ton Fish Market on Greenwich Avenue years ago.  When the Cofones approached her to paint the Snow White mural on their wall, she looked in a Disney color book of Snow White for some ideas. 

Marcia began the process by sketching the image of Snow White on the white wall.  Then she painted in the colors.  This had to be done on days when the weather was good.  She then finished the dwarfs in order:  Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy and Doc. Marcia enhanced the painting by adding images of birds, small animals, a Diamond Mine and some grass. When you turn the corner from Shore Road, you see Snow White waving at you! 

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OTHER END OF WALL.  NOTICE IMAGE OF HEIDI THE DOG.

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

The artist wasn't alone when she painted!  The family dog, Heidi, stayed close by, watching the progress.  The big, gentle German Shepherd loved to lie in the sun between the images of Sneezy and Bashful.  As a tribute to the dog, Marcia included Heidi's image at the far end of the wall.  It's a life-size portrait - one that the real Heidi likes to lie next to.

Marcia had never been to Disneyland in California;  but she had been to Walt Disney World in Florida.  She believed that was much better than the west coast attraction.

Over the years, the mural faded.  In the summer of 2014, the Cofones once again hired an artist to refurbish the wall.  Their current dog befriended the artist, and followed the painter around the property!

The wall is somewhat of a "tourist attraction".  School students come by on a bus for what's called an "Early American Tour".   It's considered a local historical site.  Strangers have stopped by to take pictures, and thank the Cofones for the mural.  Since it's very close to the intersection, drivers have to be very careful when they stop to take pictures. 

Many thanks to Lorraine Cofone for sharing this very interesting story with us!


SOURCE

Clark, El: "Disney World on Tomac Avenue!":  Village Gazette, Old Greenwich CT, 20 Nov. 1975, Print


Staying On Time

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No doubt you've noticed the clocks on Greenwich Avenue.  There are two of them:  one outside Betteridge Jewelers at 119 Greenwich Avenue, and one across from the old Post Office in front of the Christian Science Reading Room at 333 Greenwich Avenue.(There are also similar clocks in Old Greenwich, in front of the Town Hall and next to the Cos Cob Firehouse.)  I found out the original one at 333 Greenwich Avenue was manufactured by the E Howard Clock Company near Boston MA.  This company also built the steeple clock for Harkness Memorial Hall at Yale University in New Haven.

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According to The Greenwich Mail newspaper, the clock was installed at 333 Greenwich Avenue in 1926. It was originally built for someone else, but it was never picked up.  Mr. William D. Hill, who owned the Lester H. Denson Jeweler store, bought it for $500, which was a bargain back then. He used to go out and wind the clock.  If he forgot, someone passing by would stop in and remind him.  It was rumored that the clock was always within 30 seconds of the correct time.  I can envision train passengers checking the clock to make sure they were on time!  In the 1930s, the Town passed an ordinance banning advertising; the clock was considered advertising,  but disaster was averted when a variance was granted, and the clock remained.  The clock is 13-feet high, and was painted green to match the trim of the jewelry store.  Later it was painted black because the owner thought it looked better.  The face is made of marble, and the inside contains a wooden pendulum.  By 1978, the clock was still running well and only required an annual cleaning and oiling.  People rushing to the train station used to think it was running too fast, and would stop to tell the jewler; but it was very accurate, and commuters often missed their train!

Denson's son-in-law, William Dudley Hill, worked at the store and owned it from 1966 to 1978 - at which time he retired.  The new owner donated the clock to the town in the 1980s. The jewelry store finally closed, and a Christian Science Reading Room took its place.  A volunteer from the Reading Room would wind the clock until the the Town took over the winding duties.  A mail clerk from Town Hall would come over every Tuesday to wind it. A local TV station even came down to film the winding for one of its shows about Fairfield County.   At one point, the clock was even electrified to light it up and make it easier to read.   It was considered the Town's unofficial standard of time.     
 

In 1990, the clock began to show signs of wear and tear.  Eventually the clock stopped working all together, and the hands were stuck at 2:28. They didn't move for 6- to 8- weeks until it was fixed. The Town's Superintendent of Buildings and Manitenance, who was now responsible for winding the clock, arranged to have it sent to the E. Howard Company for repair. The repairs cost $2500.  When it was returned, it still wasn't right!  The Town then consulted Clockmaster Richard Brown from Sherman CT.  Within two minutes, he had it running like a clock!  A screw had worked its way loose due to the change in temperature when the mechanism was moved from a warm interior to the outside, where it was near freezing. Retired executive and clock enthusiast William Diefenback helped find rare parts to keep the clock in good repair.  Between 1990 and 1995, the clock underwent annual cleaning, and was checked for wear and tear.

In Old Greenwich, John Martello, owner of Sam's Liquor Store and President of the Old Greenwich Merchants Association, spearheaded a campaign to have a similar clock installed in the village.  A 11-foot electric clock was installed on Sound Beach Avenue around 2000.  It has a backup battery in case of a power outage, and it's programmed to automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time. It even plays chimes!  The original cost was $15,000.

Then in 2000, the owner of Betteridge Jewelers wanted to have the old clock at 333 Greenwich moved in front of his store at 119 Greenwich Avenue so he could better maintain it.  After two years of applying for permits, he decided it would be much easier to install another clock.  He contacted the E. Howard Company to see if they had any used clocks, but none were in working order.  However, they were able to use the same mold to create a custom clock.  The inner workings were made by Rolex, and you can see the logo on the clock face today.The clock is slightly lower than the old clock, and cost $12,000.

The retro clocks are considered landmarks in the Town.  They add character, and remind us of earlier times.  I hope they're around for many years.  Even though time moves on, these relics are a constant.  For some reason, it's calming and peaceful to see them.  Maybe it's the familiarity.  Whatever the reason, they're part of Greenwich history.


SOURCES

Greenwich: 90 Years in Pictures:  The Greenwich Mail, 1968; Greenwich CT

Greenwich Time:  Time Warner Communications; Southwestern Connecticut Newspapers


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ARCH STREET FERRY TICKET OFFICE

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

Two favorite destinations for local residents who don't have the time or money to travel extensively in the summer is Little Captain's Island (Island Beach) or Great Captain's Island.  Connected to Island Beach by a sand spit at low tide is Wee Captain's Island, a privately-owned property.  It's believed that these islands were named after Captain Daniel Patrick, who was a pre-Revolutionary War commander.  He and the Feakes purchased land in Old Greenwich from the Native-Americans..

The first known private owner of the islands was Dr. Nathaniel Worden, who sold them to Justus Bush. When Bush died in 1760, the islands were left to his son, Justus Bush III, and some other children.  In 1761, New York resident John Anderson petitioned his state for ownership of the islands.  Anderson was granted a patent, which in effect gave him dual ownership.  In 1764, Justus Bush sued Anderson for trespassing, when he found Andeson cutting wood on Great Captain's Island.  the Superior Court of Fairfield County found in favor of Bush, and thus Connecticut.  Ownership remained a point of contention between New York and Connecticut until 1879, when a special commission granted the islands to Connecticut.


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FERRY DEPARTING ISLAND BEACH

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

During the 20th Century, Island Beach underwent many changes.  An Island Beach Corporation opened an amusement park on the island, featuring a merry-go-round, shooting gallery, booth games, goldfish tank, a dance hall, a restaurant and one- and three- room bungaloos. The carousel was operated by hand.  It was eventually removed since someone had been injured on the ride. Over time, business fell off due to the short season and World War I. Judge James Walsh, who was a First Selectman, State Senator and State Treasurer, owned it for a while.  Then, business dropped off greatly due to tough economic times and the shortage of men enlisting during World War I.   In 1916, the island was up for sale, but, unfortunately, the RTM rejected the purchase in 1918 since they were involved in purcahsing Sandy Point Beach off Mead's Point as a public beach.  Eventually, the Sandy Beach  sale fell through.  Then two families, the Lauders and the Greenways, bought the island, and donated It to the town as a gift for use by the townspeople on October 24, 1918.  It was donated in memory of George L. Lauder, Jr, who died of influenza at the age of 37.  The famous fighter Gene Tunney was present at the ceremony. (He had married Polly Lauder). 

Two Mead's Point residents-Mrs. Wilks and Mrs. Campbell-donated money for a ferry.  The first one (the Island Beach) sailed in 1920.   Sanford Mead was the Captain, and he was assisted by engineer Winfield Mills.  In 1937 another boat - The Indian Harbor - was purchased.  It could hold up to 256 passengers.  Riders paid 10-cents to ride, while children rode for free during the week.  On weekends, children paid 10-cents to ride.   Island Beach became so popular that people started coming out by train from New York City.  It wasn't long before the ferry became overcrowded.  Private boat owners seized the opportunity to make some extra money.  They charged 25-cents to carry the overflow of people to the island.  One owner from Stamford sailed the 50-foot sailboat Massasoit with passengers, who got soaking wet since there was no cabin for the riders to sit in!  To address the problem of overcrowding, the town introduced beach cards to limit use to residents. However, this was not effectively enforced until the 1950s.


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 REMNANTS OF CAROUSEL ON ISLAND BEACH

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

Since there's now a full-time caretaker on the island, it's necessary for the person to have a boat to get back and forth to the mainland.  He has to bring in his own supplies.  Water has to be shipped out by boat since wells cannot be used due to saltwater intrusion. At one point, water had to be stored in wooden barrels. In 1936, a 10,000 gallon tank was installed for water. Toilets use saltwater. 

It's an ideal job for someone seeking solitude since no one comes after the summer ferry stops.  At one time during the 1980s, a writer had the job.  He loved the isolation.  Some families have lived on the island, making it necessary to take the children daily to the mainland to attend school, etc.  It takes a certain type of person to live this kind of lifestyle.


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PIER AND DOCK AT ISLAND BEACH

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

Over the years, weather has had a profound effect on the island. In 1860, Greenwich Harbor and Long Island Sound froze over.  A man claimed he was able to walk all the way to Long Island from Greenwich.  The same thing happened in 1917 and 1934.  In 1938, the bungaloos were knocked off their foundations by the Great Hurricane, and in 1955 the dock was ruined by a windstorm.  Three bungaloos were also washed away.  More recently, in 1980 the Beach House and dock was ruined.  The White Hurricane of 1992 ruined the dock, and Hurricane Sandy did the same, making it necessary to postpone the opening of Island Beach until July.

The lawsuit to open Greenwich beaches in 1996 led to changes in the fee structure and access to Greenwich beach facilities for out-of-towners.  Fears of overcrowding were premature.  Out-of-towners now have to get a temporary town pass as well as a ticket to ride the ferry.  On the weekends, you'll find the greatest number of people taking advantage of the barbeque grills and refreshing waters of Long Isalnd Sound.  On warm days, you'll usually find the air is several degrees lower than the mainland.  You also get a great view of the Manhattan skyline.


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BASE OF FLAGPOLE WITH DEDICATION TO LAUDER FAMILY

PHOTO BY CARL WHITE

One of my favorite events is the free concert by a Dixieland Band.  They usually board a 4:30 ferry, and play while the boat heads down Greenwich Harbor to Island Beach.  After an hour of entertaining people on the island, they re-board the ferry, and play all the way back to the Arch Street dock. 


Another special event is a "Cruise to Nowhere".  Several times in the summer, the boat heads out to destinations like Oyster Bay. You can't get off because the boat doesn't dock;  but if you're like me, it satisfies your need for a longer cruise.


We're very fortunate to have this town park available to the public.  It's a great place to take the children anytime.  Many residents view the trip out to Island Beach as a "mini-vacation"!


SOURCES

Island Beach: An Oral History Interview
Oral History Project. Friends of the Greenwich Library
Greenwich, CT.: Greenwich Library, 1979

Havemeyer Park Housing Project

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One of the most interesting neighborhoods in town is Havemeyer Park in Old Greenwich.  It lies just to the west of the town line with Stamford, and offers a contrast to the housing projects and new condos just across the town line.  Although the houses are basically the same style (Cape Cod houses), each one has its own unique character.  The houses were originally built to provide housing for the many Veterans returning from World War II


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Originally, the land where Havemeyer Park was built belonged to H.O. Havemeyer. Henry (or Harry) was an industrialist and sugar maker.  He was born in New York City on October 18, 1847.  He studied at Bellport Academy on Long Island, then transferred to Bett's School in Stamford.  It's reported that he had a run in with the Principal, and left school permanently at the age of eight.  This was the extent of his formal education.  Since his family was well established, he became the President and owner of the American Sugar and Refining Company.  Havemeyer's nickname was "Sugar King".  H.O. owned a sugar plantation in Cuba, and shipped his sugar cane by boat to New York.  He cornered the market in sugar all over the country.

In 1888, Havemeyer bought 85 acres about 2 blocks up from the Boston Post Road.  He decided to build his "Hilltop" estate. The view of Long Island Sound was magnificent in those days.  It took 3-years for men to clear the land and construct the buildings.  This included a mansion, barn, 3 greenhouses, a gardener's cottage and an artesian well. There was no bathroom - residents had to use an outhouse. Havemeyer raised cows, chickens and pigs.  He grew apples, grapes, figs, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes and vegetables.  His pride and joy, however, was his orchids, roses and gardenias.  These varieties won him many prizes at New York flower shows.

Like many other Greenwich residents, the Havemeyer family lived a very rustic life  There was no electricity or running water.  Kerosene lamps were used for lighting. The roads were still dirt, and Mr. Havemeyer had to take a horse and buggy to the train station, post office and grocery store.  Actually, they were pretty self-sufficient when it came to food since they grew a lot of fruits and vegetables.  Havemeyer had cottages built on the estate so he could invite guests for the weekend.

It's a well-known fact that the Havemeyer family was very generous to the Town of Greenwich.  They bought and gave  the Town the triangular park in front of the Post Office where the obelisk now resides.  They also donated $250,000 for the Havemeyer School. Old Greenwich School and the First Presbyterian Church were also recepients of their generosity. Mrs. Havemeyer was a volunteer who supported Women's Suffrage,  and she belonged to the National Women's Party.

They were the first to buy Impressionist paintings by Degas and Monet and have them imported to the United States. (They were close friends of artist Mary Cassatt, by the way.) A large part of their art collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  H.O. Havemeyer passed away on December 4, 1907.

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PHILANTHROPIST H.O.HAVEMEYER


It was after World War II (1946) that Gene Tunney became interested in the Havemeyer property.  Tunney was a professional boxer, and was the world heavyweight champion from 1926 to 1928.  He married Polly Lauder from an influential Greenwich family.  She was related to Andrew Carnegie.  Tunney had had an interesting life, serving as a Marine, working as a lumberman in Canada, and even lecturing at Yale University!  He was committed to providing housing for returning veterans.  So in 1946 he purchased 149 acres for $173,600 from the Havemeyer estate.  There were several stipulations, however:

 1.  Each lot must have a 60-foot front,
 2.  the cost couldn't be more than $10,000, and
 3.  the first units had to be finished by 1947

Tunney employed the Stamford Building Company to handle the construction, while Fairfield Realty handled the sales.  Arthur Starck, a friend of Tunney, helped organize a Havemeyer Park Builders corporation, and a sales trailer was set up at the corner of Havemeyer Lane and the Boston Post Road. Starck was named Secretary / Treasurer.

Initial plans called for the inclusion of a California-style (strip mall)  shopping center at the corner of Florence and MacArthur Drive.  This would include a Bradlee's department store, food stores, drugstores, etc. This never came about because the Town and residents were worried about traffic and the "unsavory" element it might attract.  This property was rocky, and not suitable for any kind of housing construction.  The Havemeyer Park Builders wanted to donate the property to the town, but officials were suspicious.  They considered the land unbuildable;  but the Town finally relented, and accepted the gift.  Surprisingly, part of the land was eventually used to build Dundee School! 

The average house in Havemeyer Park was built on a quarter-of-an-acre.  It was a Cape Cod style with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a livingroom, an attic crawlspace or unfinished attic, built on a slab and later full cellars.  Standardization helped keep the costs down.  They weren't well graded - owners had to plant their own grass.  Roads weren't paved at first.  The construction company didn't want to incur the cost of putting in roads, so the Town took them over.  The Town also offered to plant cherry or dogwood trees for $15 each.  This was a good deal.  Some residents dug up bushes and trees from the old Havemeyer mansion.  Eventually, the mansion was razed to make room for more housing.

In 1948, residents decided to organize a Havemeyer Park Owners Association.  This grew out of concerns for roads and traffic. Owners were concerned about additional traffic spilling out onto Havemeyer Lane from Stamford.  Representatives met with Stamford officials, who agreed to abandon plans for additional  roads to add traffic to Havemeyer Lane.  Since the association had no money or legal representation, it had to rely on the good will of people to preserve its neighborhood character.  Most people complied with requests from the neighbors and the owners' association.

Once the houses were built, they sold out very quickly.  Buyers were mostly veterans, who could get FHA mortgages through the GI Bill.  Only $1,000 was required as a downpayment on a $10,000 house.  Today, those houses would sell for between $375,000 and $450,000.  The Veterans were usually married with young children.  Since they didn't have a lot of money, most of the families would socialize with each other.  They organized Christmas decoration contests, Valentine's Dances, picnics, bowling leagues, tennis groups, barbeques, garden clubs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Over time, the families would save money and move to bigger houses in town.  Havemeyer Park became known as a "starter community".  Older people looking to downsize, and other ethnic groups moved into the Park.  The population started to become more diversified.  Of course, some residents remained since they like the community.

Meanwhile, development just over the Stamford line threatens to change traffic patterns in the area. .  A newly-constructed condo complex (including an access road) includes a rotary that may change the flow of traffic on Havemeyer Lane.  Plans for a big box Home Depot structure near the old Cyanamid building were abandoned due to public protests. A shopping mall adjacent to Laddin's Rock Road could spill over the Town line.  There is plenty of land near Havemeyer Park that could still be developed.  

 The Park, which stretches roughly from Havemeyer Lane to Florence Road and Palmer Hill Road to the Boston Post Road, remains a thriving and vibrant community.  Residents take pride in their homes and property.  The Homeowners Association still watches over developments in the area.  Everyone is committed to maintaining the rural nature of the Town.  Havemeyer Park will always remain a unique part of Greenwich.



SOURCE

Havemeyer Park : Oral History Interview
Oral History Project. Friends of the Greenwich Library
Greenwich, CT : Greenwich Library, 2002

 
 

Blythewood Sanitarium

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If you've ever looked at some early maps of Greenwich, you may have been surprised to see a caption for a Blythewood Sanitarium on Indian Rock Road off Orchard Street in Cos Cob.  This is where the Greenwich Baptist Church is now located across the street from Central Middle School.  The medical center was established by Mrs. Anna C. Wiley and her husband, Dr. William H. Wiley, in 1905.  It operated until 1965, when the Baptist Church bought the property. 

Mrs. Wiley was a nurse, who worked in mental hospitals in Canada and the United States.  She met her husband in a hospital while working as a nurse. Dr. William Wiley had been born in Chester PA,  and was educated at The Friends School of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania.   Mrs. Wiley had a reputation for being kind and philanthropic, and gave her patients  exceptional treatment. She believed patients should not be confined to buildings with a cold atmosphere.  They should be given freedom to move around.  Part of the rehabilitation should include creative outlets such as arts and crafts.  Mrs. Wiley was definitely progressive in her approach to mental health treatment.

The Sanitarium complex at one time featured 8 main buildings, 8 cottages, a chapel, an occupational therapy building and a small golf course on 50-acres of land.  Only the chapel remains today.  A small stream bisects the property.  It was known to be a rehabilitation center for the wealthy, although "charity" patients were included in the program but not identified.

A big iron gate marked the entrance to Blythewood.  Next to the gate was the main house with white columns.  This was the original main house of the estate, and served as the Blythewood Administrative building.  It conatined the doctor's offices and also served as a "Graduate House" for patients about to be released. 

When patients first arrived, they were held in a "Lockup House" for observation.  This could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  Depending on the diagnosis, patients would be assigned to the Violent House or Middle House. 

The Violent House was the farthest from the road.  Patients were usually strapped down to guernies when arriving, then delivered to padded cells for safety.  Sometimes their hands were restrained.  Occassional screams could be heard from the building.  Pottery classes were held to help with rehabilitation.

People who improved would move to the Middle House.  This was a 2-story building with a finished attic, common rooms, and central dining room.  Patients continued their rehabilitation here until they were ready to move to the Graduate House.

Patients saw their psychiatrist for an hour each day five days a week.  In general, improving patients were allowed maximum freedom of movement.  Activities were geared to give patients intellectual and creative expression.  Clubs were formed, a library was accessible, concerts and musicals were performed - some by famous artists.

One of the attending physicians, Dr. Tiebout, was a pioneer in treating alcoholism.  On July 30, 1979, the Greenwich Time ran an article that Greenwich was second only to the San Fernando Valley as the Alcoholic Capital of America!  Dr. Tiebout believed the only way to treat the disease was to have the patient give up alcohol all together.  He was one of the early doctors to help formulate the AA program.  Blythewood began to get more and more people admitted for alcohol treatment.

Blythewood had its share of problems over time.  There were rumors of experimentation gone bad, and several people committed suicide on the premises. A fire destroyed part of the sanitarium in December of 1939. Several patients were found drowned in a pond on the property.

When Dr. Wiley died on November 8, 1936, Mrs. Wiley took over as head and continued to run the hospital until she died on July 2, 1951.  The Putnam Operating Company took over in July 1951, and the company continued to operate using the same philosophy and ideals established by the Wileys.  Managers also focused on personnel and employees, making sure they were trained to provide top notch service to patients. 

The sanitarium continued to operate until 1965, when the Greenwich Baptist Church bought the property for its home.  The current patients were transferred to other facilities throughout Fairfield County.

SOURCES:

Brown, S. : A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann: First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous; Hazelden Information & Education Services, 2001.

Greenwich Time: Time-Warner Corporation.

Dingletown Church

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If you've ever driven on Stanwich Road, you've probably noticed a quaint little church on the corner of Barnstable Road. This is now known as the Dingletown Community Church.  It's non-denominational, but at one time it was a Methodist Protestant Church in north Cos Cob.  What you might not know is that this church was moved from its former location.

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CHURCH IN CURRENT LOCATION

COURTESY OF DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Dingletown was one of the many villages or communities of Greenwich.  Some people claim it got its name from the constant jingling of cow bells as cattle crossed the farmlands.  Someone else suggested it might have been named after a "dingle", which is defined as a deep, narrow cleft between hills or a shady dell.  I believe Dingletown Road drops from a hill down to a bridge which crosses a stream between some hills.  This seems like the more logical explanation.

Although Dingletown was not as prominent a community as Stanwich or Round Hill, it still had an informal "church".  People would meet in a neighbor's house to worship.  It was probably time-consuming to travel to central Greenwich to attend church.  It became part of the Bedford circuit, and they shared a travelling minister for 15 years before they got a permanent preacher.  A small white church was built in 1845 about a mile south of its present location off Dingletown Road. It officially opened on November 26, 1845 as the Horseneck Society of the Methodist Protestant Church.

Orig Dingle004.jpgORIGINAL CHURCH ON DINGLETOWN ROAD.  CHURCH CAN BE SEEN IN UPPER RIGHT.

COURTESY OF THE DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Some residents believe it is the oldest frame church in Greenwich.  It was constructed from unpeeled (roughhewn) logs.  The main floor was supported by beams.  Bent saplings were used for curved ceiling supports. A pot bellied stove was used to heat the interior.  Light was provided by oil lamps and pewter candle sconces. There was a pulpit and pews for the choir.  Music was provided by an old pump organ. A cupola was installed on the roof.  Attendance by church members was compulsory, and a fine was levied if they missed a service.

The church was finally able to hire a permanent preacher, and a parade of ministers passed through the church until 1921 when Dr. Albert Lunning took over the helm.  He ran the church until until October 1935, when he passed away.  The church suddenly closed on November 21, 1935, and Dr. William Darrach bought the property to preserve the New England landmark.

When World War II broke out and gas rationing was implemented, local residents in Dingletown curtailed their trips to Cos Cob and central Greenwich.  Dr. Darrach reopened the church for worship in 1942.  At this time it was called Dingletown Church.  At first, lay members led the services, until a permanent minister was appointed around 1950. He had attended the Yale Divinty School and was ordained at the church.

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DINGLETOWN CHURCH BEING MOVED

COURTESY OF DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

The church experienced a growth spurt in the fifties.  Since the church was built on a small plot of land, the building could not be expanded.  The Elders authorized the purchase of a larger lot on the corner of Barnstable Lane and Stanwich Road.  The building was purchased from the Darrach family, and plans were made to relocate the church.  Workers jacked up the building and rollers were placed underneath.  The cupola was removed, and trees along the route were cut.  On August 13, 1959, the church was moved to its present location.  One member of the church donated a steeple, while someone else provided a bell obtained from a locomotive once used by a Maine railroad.  A stonewall was added, as well as several large maple trees.

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CHURCH BEING RELOCATED

COURTESY OF THE DINGLETOWN COMMUNITY CHURCH

Today, the church is still a non-denominational congregation at 376 Stanwich Road.  It's open to people from all walks of life, as well as every religious persuasion.  I know many people who have chosen this church for weddings, baptisms and funerals. There's also a Memorial Garden - which has a "cosmic design" - on the property.   It's a very quaint and typical New England church. 


Father of the Postage Meter

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I often look at "Greenwich Before 2000" (GHS) to get ideas for topics to discuss on this blog.  Recently, I was surprised to read that Arthur Pitney - inventor of the postage meter - lived in Cos Cob in 1921.  The book also mentioned that his partner, B.H. Bowes, was also a resident of Greenwich.   I knew that the Pitney-Bowes Company had an office in Stamford, but had no idea the business partners were local residents.

Arthur Pitney was born in Quincy, Illinois, in 1871.  In 1890, his family moved to Chicago.  It was here in 1893 that young Arthur toured the World's Columbian Exposition, and became very interested in mechanical inventions.  This would prove to be very useful in the future.

While working in a wallpaper store, Arthur thought there had to be a better way to attach postage to the hundreds of letters the store sent out to customers.  He felt the manual process was wasteful in terms of time and money.  Being interested in mechanical invenrions, he created a machine to simplify business mailing.  Arthur built the first postage meter with a manual crank, chain, printing die, counter and lockout device. In 1902, he founded the Pitney Postal Machine Company.  By 1912, it was renamed the American Postage Meter Company.

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Unfortunately, Pitney wasn't much of a marketer.  He had spent $90,000 of his own money on this device, but got little interest from the Post Office Department.  His patent was expiring and he had little to show for his investment.  Not only did his finances suffer, but his marriage was ruined.  He decided to abandon the project, and resorted to selling insurance.  Fortunately, someone introduced him to Walter Bowes in 1919. 

Walter Bowes was born in England in 1882.  His family immigrated to the United States. By 1908, he was selling check endorsing machines to automate processing, and eventually bought the Universal Stamping Company.  He started renting stamp cancelling machines to the Post Office Department, and promoted permit printing.  Bowes moved his operation to Stamford in 1917. 

Bowes believed postage stamps would become obsolete.  He thought automation was the way to go.  During a discussion with a Postal official, the suggestion was made that he contact Arthur Pitney.  Pitney was good at manufacturing, and Bowes was great at marketing.  By 1920, the two formed the Pitney-Bowes Postage Meter Company.  In September, the Post Office approved the purchase of their Model M Postage Meter Company.  This device improved the mailing process tremendously by affixing postage to great volumes of mail at high speed.  A main manufacturing office was opened in Stamford, and by 1922, there were branch offices in 12 major American cities as well as Canada and England.  Corporations saw the promise of these machines, and started placing orders.  Pitney-Bowes became a rousing success. 

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Despite the success, Pitney and Bowes had personal issues, and Arthur Pitney resigned in 1924 after a dispute with Walter Bowes.  Three years later, he had a stroke and in 1933, he passed away at the age of 62.  Bowes was not very disciplined.  He hated working in the office, and preferred to sail his boat.  Bowes retired in 1940, and his stepson, Walter Wheeler, took over.  Bowes died in 1957 at the age of 75.

The company flourished from 1930 to 1960 under the leadership of Bowes and Walter Wheeler.  In 1950, the company went public with its stock.  Pitney-Bowes acquired the Monarch Marking System Company - creator of the retail barcode - in 1960.  The decade from 1970 to 1980 saw great expansion, and in 1976 the Pitney-Bowes Credit Corporation was created to offer financing options to PB customers.  The company entered the office copy machine an FAX market.  PB also acquired the dictation machine giant Dictaphone.  In 1990, the company began manufacturing barcode printers.  By 2000, Pitney-Bowes had invested a total of $2.5 billion in making 83 acquisitions!

Perhaps as a cost-cutting measure, Pitney-Bowes sold its World Headquarters in Stamford and moved to 3001 Summer Street in 2014.  Otherwise, it appears to be flourishing as the economy appears to rebound.  If it continues to be on "the cutting edge" of changing technology, it should thrive for years to come.

It's hard to imagine what the world would be like today without the Pitney-Bowes postage meter and business systems.  Pitney and Bowes represent the best in business innovation.


SOURCE

The Funding Universe: Pitney-Bowes Inc. History, n.d.: Online website: Accessed 12/12/2014.

http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/pitney-bowes-inc-history/



Early Thanksgiving in Greenwich

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I decided to research what Thanksgiving was like when the Town was first founded.  As you know, Greenwich was founded in 1640, twenty years after Plymouth Colony (1620).  We've all heard strories about the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.  They had a huge feast and invited the Native Americans to join them.  So I thought the same would have happened here.  I couldn't find any information on a similar feast here in Greenwich.  This might not be as strange as you may first think. 

Mead notes in "Ye Historie of Ye Town of Greenwich" that our settlers had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony to escape the rigors of Puritanism.  Perhaps they rejected the customs or traditions observed in Plymouth. Maybe they wanted to start their own tradtions.  Mead also noted that Greenwich was considered a wild and lawless town.  People did pretty much what they wanted.

Looking back at the 1640 time period, one thing that really sticks out is the deteriorating relations with the Native Americans.  Captain Patrick and Robert Feake had purchased land in what is now Old Greenwich for 24 fur coats. (Some reports say the natives were never paid in full!)  Maybe the Native Americans meant to share the land and not give it entirely away.  There were reports of the English using liquor to get them drunk so they could cheat them from their property.  Once the Indians figured out the trickery, they retaliated.  In 1642, Cornelius Labden was killed by the local Indians, and the next year Captain Patrick killed sachem (chief) Mayn Mianos. The worst incident happened in 1644 when Captain John Underhill led 130 Dutch and English in a massacre at an Indian settlement at Strickland Plains.  It was reported that 800 to 1,000 Native Americans were killed near Cos Cob.   Eventually, most of eastern Connecticut and southeastern Massachusetts would be involved in King Phillips War.  There was definite tension between the Colonists and the Native Americans.

Local newspapers started in 1877, so there are no newspaper accounts of early Thanksgiving celebrations.  However, Mrs. A. C. Lowitz, wife of the president of the Historical Society, gave an interview to the Greenwich Time on what an early Thanksgiving feast could have contained.  It was published on November 24, 1965. In the seventeenth century, women would start preparing several days before the celebration.  Residents relied heavily on home-grown foods.  A favorite was Dutch Oven "Pye".  This could be made from woodcock, grouse, partridge or chickens.  Wild turkey might be served with oyster stuffing.  Baked lobster was no doubt on the menu due to our proximity to Long Island Sound.  Roasted meat or fowl might be served with homemade bread. (The Bush Holley House had a great fireplace and beehive oven for baking.)  Pumpkin fritters (similar to hush puppies) would be served, as well as turnips and carrots glazed with maple syrup or honey.  Indian pudding was served for dessert. 

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Expanding on this thought, I believe local residents would feast on their home-grown agricultural products including apples, pears, peaches, potatoes, vegetables, poultry, sheep, pigs and dairy products.  Dumplings were popular (Dumpling Pond?) as well as shellfish such as oysters, clams and mussels. 

I would like to add that, since Greenwich was located on the main Post Road to Boston, travellers might enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at one of the many taverns in town.  And once Greenwich became a summer resort of sorts during the 1800s, they might choose to spend the holidays in town.  Ferry service probably brought people and supplies in for Thanksgiving.  Stores on Greenwich Avenue would stock up on dry goods in anticipation of the holiday.  Since churches were the main social centers for outlying villages such as Stanwich,  Round Hill and Banksville, people might share their Thanksgiving dinners there.  Specific ethnic groups (Italians, Polish, Dutch) might bring their own traditions to the community.

Today, many residents observe Thanksgiving in a different way.  Family members travel great distances to share a meal.  Some attend church services.  The Greenwich High School football game has become a Thanksgiving tradition.  Stamford has been holding a parade (usually the Sunday before) for over 20 years now.  Various groups volunteer at soup kitchens or donate food for the less fortunate.  Others have invited people, who would otherwise be alone, to share their Thanksgiving meal.  Until recently, local churches  held a Union (Ecumenical) Service. 

My family had our own tradtioins.  We would go to the local high school football game, then come home and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Dad would carve the turkey.   One of us would take a turn saying grace.  During dessert, we would each name something we were thankful for.  Dad and I would play chess after the meal.  Someone would call long distance to relatives that couldn't be with us.  And the wishbone was removed so it could dry and be pulled in a few days.

Whatever your personal family Thanksgiving traditions, may you and your family have many blessings in life.  And may you end up with the longest part of the wishbone!

Have a Joyous and Happy Thanksgiving!


SOURCE

The Greenwich Time


 

 

Civic - Minded William E. Hall

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Many important and influential people have made Greenwich their home over the years. This is no doubt due to the proximity of New York City as well as our beautiful countryside.  One of these people was lawyer and business executive William Edwin Hall.

Mr. Hall was born in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1878.  His father was involved in a number of industries including lumber, coal, natural gas, public utilities and banking.  He attended Haverford and Lawrenceville schools preparing for college.  In 1900,  he received a PhD from Yale, and in 1903,  a LLB from Harvard.  After college, he was a member of several law firms.  A former Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honorable Martin L. Stover, was a senior partner at one firm.  William became  head of the Hall, Cunningham and Haywood law firm in New York City.

William Hall served on a number of corporate boards including the Trojan Powder Company, the Duriron Company, St Mary's National Bank, Speer Carbon Company, International Graphite and Electrode Company, Greenwich Trust and a host of others. No doubt his legal expertise was invaluable, and he was held in great esteem. When the war broke out in 1914, he served on the Commission for Relief in Belgium under Herbert Hoover.

Mr. Hall devoted a good part of his life to helping underpriveleged boys.  He became president of the Boys Clubs of America in 1916.  This included 350 clubs in 200 cities.  The clubs provided gymnasiums, vocational classes and libraries.  Dues were only a few cents a month.  He served as vice-president of the Crime Prevention Bureau of New York City from 1928 to 1933.  This group worked to prevent boys from becoming juvenile delinquents.  In 1928 he became a trustee for the Children's Aid Society.   

Hall received many honors for his efforts.  Harvard University presented him with an honorary degree in 1936.  That same year, he received a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences.  The CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) awarded him the Medal of Champions. (By the way, he was an Episcopalian and a warden of Christ Church).  The Boy Scouts of America gave him the Silver Buffalo medal for his focus on improving the lives of young boys. Mayor LaGuardia presented him with the Boys' Exposition Gold Medal on behalf of his efforts. He also served on many professional boards such as the National Institute of Science, the Yale Club and the Greenwich Community Chest.  Locally he was a member of the Field Club, Round Hill Club and Boys Club.

Use Me Hall.jpg

William E. Hall died on January 25, 1961 in Palm Beach, Florida.  He used his station in life to help improve the lives of those less fortunate than him.  His efforts no doubt changed the lives of many young men.

Greenwich has had many residents, who have been active in community service.  That's one thing that makes this a special community.  Thank you to Mr. Hall, and all the other residents, who work for the benefit of all.


SOURCE

Who's Who In Greenwich, Greenwich Time; 9/21/1942.

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