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 a 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 (as well as the “father of zoning” in Windsor), 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, who was 17 years old when she became a WHS charter member in 1921, 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 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 the Howard family as they lived in the year 1810.
Windsor Historical Society turned 100 in September 2021. In addition to examining our own institutional past, we wanted to make this celebration about the WHOLE Windsor community and feature the history, culture, people, and stories of every part of our wonderful town.
Windsor Historical Society, friends, and neighbors came together for a celebrations of each of our five neighborhoods‘ history, culture, and people. Each event included exhibits and samples of what makes each neighborhood unique, plus partner exhibits, food, opportunities to share Windsor stories, and adding your photos to the giant “My Windsor” map, and more!