A TALE OF ART & HISTORY

November 14, 2018 at 4:30 am

Channel 13 President Emeritus Dr. Bill Baker takes us to his hometown in Greenwich, Connecticut to share an amazing tale of art and history.

Aired on November 13, 2018.

Transcript Print

>>> WHEN PEOPLE HEAR GREENWICH,
CONNECTICUT, THEY THINK OF BIG
MANSIONS AND HEDGE FUNDS BUT
THERE'S A LOT MORE TO THE
NEIGHBOR LESS THAN 30 MILES TO
OUR NORTH AND ONE OF THOSE
THINGS IS AMAZING HISTORY.
DR. BILL BAKER, 13'S PRESIDENT
EMERITUS, LIVES THERE AND HE HAS
MORE.
§
>> AT 377 YEARS OLD, GREENWICH
IS ONE OF THE OLDEST COMMUNITIES
IN THE TRI-STATE AREA.
IT HAS SOMETHING NEW TO
CELEBRATE.
THE CAMPUS OF THE GREENWICH
HISTORICAL SOCIETY HAS JUST
OPENED FEATURING THE HISTORIC
SITE OF THE BEGINNING OF
AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST ART.
DEBORAH MECHY IS THE DIRECTOR.
>> THIS OPENED A MUSEUM AND IT
DOES NOT ONLY SHOW CASE THE OLD
18th CENTURY HISTORY BUT ALSO AN
ERA WHEN IT BECAME A BOARDING
HOUSE AND IT BECAME A SEAT OF
THE COLONY.
THE COST KOHL BART COLONY WAS
FOUNDED TEN YEARS BEFORE THERE
EVER WAS AN ART COLONY SO WE
CALL THIS THE CRADLE OF AMERICAN
IMPRESSIONISM.
THE TRAIN CAME HERE IN 1848 AND
TRANSFORMED THE SLEEPY RURAL
TOWN INTO THE COMMUTER TOWN AND
RESORT FOR NEW YORKERS.
IT ALSO IS WHAT BROUGHT THE
ARTISTS HERE TO COST COBB.
IT WAS A 45 MINUTE RIDE, THE
ARTISTS COULD WALK THREE MINUTES
TO THE HOLLEY HOUSE WHERE THEY
COULD BOARD THE COMMUNITY AND
SET UP THEIR EASELS AND PAINT
THE COLONIAL ARCHITECTURES AND
COASTAL AREA.
>> TODAY WE ARE SHARING OUR JOY
AND EXCITEMENT AT COMPLETING
BOTH THE RE-IMAGINED CAMPUS AND
THE RE-IMAGINED CAMPAIGN.
>> THIS IS THE RESULT OF
PLANNING THAT STARTED ABOUT SIX
YEARS AGO.
AND WHAT MADE THIS ALL POSSIBLE
WAS THAT ANONYMOUS DONORS
STEPPED IN AND SAID THAT THEY
WOULD MATCH DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR
EVERY DOLLAR THAT WAS RAISED BY
THE CAMPAIGN UP TO THE GOAL OF
$13.5 MILLION.
SO THE ANONYMOUS DONOR HAS
MATCHED 6,$750,000 AND THE
CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE RAISED THE
OTHER $6,750,000.
THE CONSTRUCTION WAS NOT
SUPPOSED TO START UNTIL A VERY
SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF THE MONEY
HAD BEEN RAISED.
I URGED AND THE BOARD AGREED TO
LET THE CONSTRUCTION START A
YEAR EARLIER WHILE WE WERE
RAISING THE MONEY.
AND IN FACT, THE PROJECT HAS
BEEN COMPLETED APPROXIMATELY A
YEAR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.
AND SLIGHTLY UNDERBUDGET.
>> ONE OF THE GREAT LADIES,
CLAIRE VANDERBILT, WITHOUT HER
WE WOULDN'T BE HERE BECAUSE I-95
WAS ORIGINALLY TO GO RIGHT
THROUGH THE BUSH HOLLEY HOUSE.
>> CLAIRE VANDERBILT WAS THE
FORCE BEHIND THE GREENWICH
HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
SHE WAS A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF
JOHN DAVIS LODGE WHO HAPPENED TO
BE GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT.
THE OFFICIAL TITLE OF I-95 IS
THE JOHN DAVIS LODGE HIGHWAY.
AND I-95 HAS A GENTLE CURVE SO
THAT IT GOES AROUND ITS SITE
INSTEAD OF OVER IT.
THE BUILDING IN WHICH WE ARE NOW
SITTING, TOBY'S TAVERN, IN THE
1850s AND '60s BECAME THE
RAILROAD HOTEL.
AND THEN DAVID SCOTT PARKER, THE
ARCHITECT FOR THE RE-IMAGINED
CAMPUS HE FOUND A PAINTING OF
TOBY'S TAVERN WITH AN ORGAN
GRINDER AND A MONKEY OUTSIDE AND
THE ARTIST SITTING AROUND
DRINKING.
AND HE TOUPD -- FOUND PAINTINGS
AND PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE EXTERIOR
OF WHAT HAD BEEN THE RAILROAD
HOTEL.
BASED ON THAT, WE REALIZED THAT
THIS BUILDING COULD BE STRIPPED
DOWN, RESTORED AND RECREATED.
>> WITH THE ACQUISITION OF
TOBY'S TAVERN, THE GREENWICH
HISTORICAL SOCIETY NOW HAS AN
IMPRESSIVE ROW OF TWO 18th
CENTURY BUILDINGS AND ONE FROM
THE EARLY 19th CENTURY.
>> ON A STREET THAT IS AN
HISTORICAL STREET WITH ALL OF
THE PROPERTIES ON IT, HISTORIC
PROPERTIES.
>> THE JURY IS OUT.
THIS NEW HISTORICAL SOCIETY IS
AN ABSOLUTE HOME RUN.
>> THIS IS A DREAM COME TRUE.
ON THE MAJOR NEW BUILDING HERE
ON THE GROUND LEVEL, YOU HAVE
THE ENTRANCE ATRIUM.
ON YOUR LEFT ARE THE ARCHIVE AND
THE READING ROOM.
DIRECTLY ABOVE THEM ARE TWO ART
GALLERIES.
THE FIRST ONE HAS AN EXHIBITION
ABOUT THE HISTORY OF GREENWICH.
THE SECOND IS CALLED THE
PERMANENT GALLERY.
IN THAT IS A MAJOR PART OF THE
IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING
COLLECTION.
PAINTINGS THAT WERE PAINTED
HERE.
PAINTINGS OF THE BUSH HOLLEY
HOUSE, PAINTINGS OF THE HOLLEY
FAMILY.
PAINTINGS DONE ON THE INTERIOR
AND THE EXTERIOR.
>> COME ON IN.
AND ENJOY THE GALLERIES ON THE
SECOND FLOOR.
THE LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES ON THE
FIRST FLOOR.
MUSEUM STORE.
CAFE AND THE WONDERFUL GARDEN
CENTER.
>> WE BELIEVE THAT THIS FACILITY
NOW IS PERHAPS THE FINEST HOUSE
MUSEUM FACILITY NOT ONLY OF THE
TOWN OF GREENWICH BUT THE STATE
OF CONNECTICUT AND EVEN THE
NATION.
>> IN TODAY'S DIGITAL AGE,
COMPUTER SCREENS AND DEVICES ARE
REDUCING OUR INTERACTION WITH
PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS AND FAST
BECOMING THE LANDSCAPE WHERE
MOST -- WE'RE MOST ACCUSTOMED
TO, AT THE EXPENSE OF HOW WE
VIEW OURSELVES AND OUR PLACE IN
HISTORY.
THROUGH THE NEWLY RE-IMAGINED
CAMPUS, THEY'RE MAKING THAT THE
ILLUSTRIOUS PAST IS PRESERVED
FOR GENERATIONS OF AMERICANS TO
COME.
THIS IS BILL BAKER FOR
"METROFOCUS."

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019