Strickland Road Memorialized as a Historic District
By Richard Kaufman
Under bright blue skies and warm sunshine on Monday afternoon, elected officials, historic preservationists and Greenwich residents gathered for the dedication of the Strickland Road Historic District Marker, located in the grassy area by Mill Pond, between Putnam Avenue and Laughlin Road, in Cos Cob.
The marker is sponsored by the Greenwich Preservation Network of the Greenwich Historical Society, Charles Hilton Architects, who designed the sign, and Cornerstone Contracting, who helped with the installation.
This is the sixth historic district sign created as part of a preservation initiative by the Greenwich Preservation Network, which was formed in 2015 and aims to educate and provide information to Greenwich residents and business owners regarding the value in preserving significant architectural and historic structures and streetscapes.
Davidde Strackbein, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the Greenwich Historical Society, thanked those in attendance for their hard work in helping with the initiative, and said the markers serve as a “form of preservation and identification throughout the town of Greenwich.”
The Greenwich Preservation Network is comprised of representatives from various organizations in town, such as the Greenwich Land Trust, Tree Conservancy, Historic District Commission, Architectural Review Committee and realtors, who are all interested in preservation.
Diane Fox, chairwoman of the Network, said the signs are placed in areas where pedestrians can notice them and stop to learn about town history.
“What we’re trying to do is put it in your face as you walk,” Fox said.
Fox also pointed out that living in an historic district doesn’t diminish or depress property value, or restrict homeowners.
“Historic districts don’t stop people from painting their house,” Fox said. “The idea is not to stop development [in these areas]; it’s to do it with the right choices in trying to preserve those buildings.”
The Strickland Road Historic District was the first ever created in the town of Greenwich when the Representative Town Meeting passed a resolution, in December of 1975. In 1990, the district was listed on the National Register.
The district encompasses the area historically known as the Lower Landing, formerly a maritime center which eventually became home of the Cos Cob art colony. It’s also home to the town’s only National Historic Landmark in the Bush-Holley House.
According to Debra Mecky, Executive Director and CEO of the Greenwich Historical Society, Strickland Road was a vital artery for farmers, who brought their wagons down to the landing where in order to unload their grains and have them ground at the gristmill, which was operated and constructed by David Bush around 1765.
The area flourished into the 19th century and attracted numerous merchants and tradesmen, but the arrival of the railroad changed everything near the turn of the century.
“It’s really the train that really transformed this area from being a commercial area to a residential area, because it became much more attractive for people to live and vacation here,” Mecky said. “There was no longer a need to be coming always by ship. The train now could bring merchandise and people to the town.”
The district also features well-preserved Colonial and Victorian houses, early 20th century craftsman-style bungalows and a group of post-World War II homes, on Mill Pond Court.
“It’s a wonderful history of architecture as you walk down Strickland Road, and you see the changes over time from the 1730’s to about the 1940’s,” Mecky said. “We’re delighted that [the area] is protected. For those of us who live here, we love it. It’s just a wonderful community and walk from the Post Road down to the Landing.”
The Greenwich Preservation Network of the Greenwich Historical Society hopes to install a sign on Greenwich Avenue next, with Stanwich Road and Round Hill Road slated for the future.
For more information, go to greenwichhistory.org