History


    
 

On the evening of September 1, 1921, seventeen people met at Windsor’s town hall to form the Windsor Historical Society.  That evening, the Society was officially named and its officers elected. The Society’s first bylaws included these objectives:
     - The collection and preservation of records, facts, and materials relating to the history and to the citizens of

       Windsor.
     - The identification, preservation and marking of buildings and locations of historic interest.
     - The recording of current history for the benefit of future generations.
     - The publication of documents and pamphlets relating to Windsor.
     - The preparation for the observance of the Tercentenary (300th anniversary) of Windsor in 1933.


During its first year the Society established a building fund. As the fund grew, the officers looked for an appropriate property for their headquarters. In 1925 the house then known as the 1640 Lt. Walter Fyler House, thought to be one of the oldest wood-frame houses in the state, came on the market. To the horror of Society members, one prospective buyer wanted to use the site for a gasoline station. The Society signed an option, solicited donations, received them enthusiastically from all over the United States, and purchased the house.

Donations began to pour in: books, artifacts, documents, maps, and photographs. In its early years, the Fyler house operated as an historic house museum, archives, tea room, and hostel. Visitors from afar with Windsor roots could even stay overnight in one of the historically furnished rooms.

This small, corncob-insulated house, though charming, was widely recognized to be a fire hazard. Time and again in early annual reports, presidents of the Society called for funds to build a fireproof building that could safely house the Society’s growing collections. It didn’t happen until Leland P. Wilson, the Society’s long-time treasurer and a prominent Windsor brick-maker, bequeathed the necessary funds for construction and maintenance of a museum and library, which opened in 1962. Today the Wilson building houses our Hands-On-History Learning Center, meeting room, and kitchen on the first floor, and collections storage in the basement and second-floor levels.

In 1990, thanks to a generous bequest from Marguerite Mills, we were able to add significant space to our facilities. The Mills building houses our reception area, museum gift shop, and two exhibition galleries on the first floor. It also houses collections and library storage in the basement and an additional gallery, our research library, offices, and textile storage upstairs.

Another opportunity came our way in 1992 when we began leasing the Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee House (built around 1767) from the Town of Windsor. After interior renovation, we opened the Chaffee House to visitors in 1993 and maintain the first floor of this thirteen-room house as a house museum.

In 1999 the Fyler House underwent a name change and significant reinterpretation after architectural analysis and primary source research revealed the house was built around 1758, not 1640. The Strong-Howard House, as it is now named, stands on land owned by Lt. Walter Fyler and interprets the lives of three different families who lived in the house.

What’s Ahead
The Windsor Historical Society is growing and changing. Today our complex includes the Chaffee and Strong-Howard  Houses and our museum and library building. In the last three years we have added staff, increased our programming, and more than doubled our visitation from a little over 1,600 visitors in 2000 to 4,100 in 2003. In the near future we will embark on a major study, restoration, and reinterpretation of the Strong House and a related capital campaign.

 


Windsor Historical Society    ♦    96 Palisado Avenue    ♦    Windsor, CT 06095    ♦    860-688-3813    ♦    info@windsorhistoricalsociety.org

 

 

Copyright 2010 by Windsor Historical Society of Windsor, Connecticut, Inc.

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