The Greenmans of Greenmanville


Pictured above: Thomas Greenman shown with his daughter and granddaughters, ca. 1885, next to his Greenmanville home.
From the Mystic Seaport Museum Collections.

Our self-guided tour continues south on Greenmanville Avenue following the widening of the river and paralleling the 19 acres of the nation’s leading maritime museum, Mystic Seaport Museum. The museum was founded in 1929 in part by a descendant of the Greenman brothers, who together established the George Greenman & Company shipyard on this land in 1838. According to newspaper articles and historical documents, Thomas, one of the three brothers and father of (Charlotte) Elizabeth Greenman Stillman wanted the shipyard to be transformed into a park or open space after its decline. It is appropriate today that this landscape has further value as visitors explore the lessons offered in our shared stories of land and people.

Continuing onward, three Victorian-era houses can be found on Greenmanville Avenue, built for the Greenman brothers in 1838 (George Greenman), 1841 (Clark Greenman) and 1842 (Thomas Greenman). According to the wide collection of historical documents about the Greenman brothers, they were legislators, liberal republicans, social reformers, temperance and prohibition supporters, advocates for women’s suffrage, members of both the Universal Peace Union and Anti-Colonization Society and supporters of the Canadian Fugitive Mission. Even with this demonstrated strong moral character, the Greenmans still harbored contradictions we can see clearly today. Northerners profited from slavery through Southern trade and timber and earned wealth from vessels that carried cotton and immigrants. As complex and noticeable as these factors are to us now, we must continue to do the work now of finding societal inequities and consider how injustice affects the health of our communities today.

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Pictured above: (Top) Another view of east side of Mystic River, ca. 1900 taken by Everett Scholfield from his home on Clift Street. MRHS, Stinson Collection. (Bottom) 1879 map of “Mystic River and Mystic Bridge, Conn.” from the Mystic River Historical Society.