Central Street is less than 500 feet long, much smaller looking in person than these photographs suggest. Despite its small size, over the years it has experienced many alterations, with only the Windsor train station enduring, sitting as its eastern anchor since 1869. Indeed, the train depot gave the block its previous name of “Railroad Ave”, which was only changed to Central St. around 1915.

1880s. Men pose outside the Garvan Brothers’ grocery store in the basement of the Best Building, named for William Best’s cigar company, another prominent tenant. Above them is George Wilbraham’s hardware store. Both companies would move their businesses to Broad Street by the early 1900s. | WHS collections 2017.1.8.

c.1915. In the 1910s, the block accommodated a series of livery and trucking companies, carpenters, cobblers, and blacksmiths. This photo was taken only a few years before the “Best Building” (with cupola) burned down. | WHS collections 1954.2.6.41, photo by William S. Leek.

1930s. The Windsor Garage was a longtime occupant of Central Street, and in this photo you can see they are actually in the same building as the Windsor Theater (awning on left; see next photo). | WHS collections 1992.42.30, photo by Adelbert Coe.

c.1940. Some building shapes are the same, but the faces are different. In 1922, Arthur W. Lovell built the Lovell Building that housed the Tunxis Theater, which was renamed the Windsor Theater in the 1930s. Next to the theater are the Railway Express Agency and the Windsor Animal Hospital. | WHS collections 1954.2.4.88, photo by William S. Leek.

1971. Bill Selig bought the Windsor Garage business from previous owner John Bouvier, and expanded his Ford dealership to take over the entire block. |
WHS collections 1998.12.1.362, photo by Adelbert Coe.

1987. What was the Selig Ford building changes its face again, and would undergo yet more cosmetic adjustments in the years to come. | WHS collections 1992.42.41.325, photo by Adelbert Coe.

By Michelle Tom, librarian/archivist