Posted on July 19, 2016 by admin
From the Greenwich Time, 7/19/16, email@example.com
GREENWICH — The annual celebration of Greenwich’s founding came this year with a special dedication: a plaque marking the 376-year-old event attached now to a rock at Greenwich Point.
The celebration Monday was a reminder of how the past intersects with the present, guest speakers told an audience of about 50 who braved heat and wind at the point to help honor the town’s history.
“Sometimes we forget, with too much enthusiasm for tomorrow, what and who came before us,” said Davidde Strackbein, chair of the Greenwich Historical Society and master of ceremonies for the celebration.
“We throw away the past and lose a sense of community and with it a sense of belonging and a kinship in all our history as a people,” she said, while relating immigrant stories that helped shape the town. “We are witness to a time, even now, that will never come again and we should not waste it. We should cherish it and preserve it as we have done today.”
The town’s founding event is recognized as the purchase of a swath of land in eastern Greenwich by Daniel Patrick and Robert and Elizabeth Feake on July 18, 1640 for 25 coats. (Only 11 of the coats were actually produced, and the Siwanoy Indians who occupied the land viewed the trade as a rental agreement, not sale, one of several factors that set Greenwich up for a tumultuous beginning.)
The bronze plaque, mounted on a large rock on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound, features a replica of the deed for the purchase.
State Rep. Livvy Floren, R-149th, read the deed and gave way to attendees who shared memories of the importance of Greenwich Point in their lives. Among those was Selectman John Toner, who spoke of coming down to the beach area with his family and friends for breakfast and a swim. He said his parents would never let him swim after breakfast, so he would jump up and down on a rock marked 1640, which he never knew it marked the town’s founding until he saw it again as an adult.
“Kids will come and look (at the plaque) and their parents will tell them about it, but you only know about age through age,” Toner said. “They’ll come back as adults and say, ‘Yeah, this is where it all started.’ It’s good to be here.”
First Selectman Peter Tesei noted that the Elizabeth Feake eventually owned what is now most of Old Greenwich. The fact that it was rare for a woman to be the sole owner of property at that time showed Greenwich’s progressive nature from the start, he said.
Strackbein said what had once been “old paper and deadly stuff from the deadly past buried in the recesses of Town Hall” could now be seen every day on the bluff.
The plaque, which was created for last year’s 375th anniversary, also contains the town’s coat of arms from 1940: a windmill for the town’s early Dutch influence; a horse’s head for Horseneck, the name by which most of Greenwich (except for Old Greenwich) was once known; a plow for the agricultural history of the founders; a ship from the coat of arms of Greenwich, England; and a clam shell to represent the early maritime trade in the town.
The audience included representatives from several preservationist groups, including the Friends of Greenwich Point, the Greenwich Point Conservancy and the Greenwich Tree Conservancy. Also on hand were former First Selectman Richard Bergstresser, town Director of Parks and Recreation Joseph Siciliano and some descendants of the town’s founding families.
State Rep. Fred Camillo, R-151st, discussed some of the notable people who lived in Greenwich, including titans of industry, celebrities, pro athletes and President George H.W. Bush.
Camillo also spoke of skirmishes in the Revolutionary War, the famous art colony in Cos Cob, the fact that the Boy Scouts of America was partially founded here and the once-considered idea of making Greenwich home to the United Nations.
“All that for 25 coats,” Camillo said.