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
- 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.
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