The north side of 96 Palisado Avenue, thought to be taken prior to the demolition of the western chimney (visible on the right side of the photograph), c1887. WHS collections 1922.11.1.

Naming the Strong-Howard House

In the early 1920s an old Windsor home belonging to Frank Denslow became endangered. Thought to be one of the oldest homes in Windsor, it was sadly dilapidated, and developers had plans for the land it sat on directly across the street from First Church. This was an era of rapidly changing transportation. Automobiles, no longer a novelty, were fast replacing horse-drawn vehicles. The house was slated for demolition to make way for a new gasoline station.

Saving the old house became a rallying cause of the fledgling Windsor Historical Society. Donations came in from near and far enabling the Society to purchase the home for $7,400 in 1925. We knew the house sat on land deeded to Lieutenant Walter Fyler in 1640. We also knew that the house had later wings and additions. We named it the Fyler House assuming that the original structure had housed Walter Fyler and his family.

From the mid-twentieth century on, scholars suspected that the original core of the Fyler House had been built in the eighteenth, not the seventeenth, century. In the late 1990s, curator Elaine Olson urged historian Beverly Garvan, whose specialty is deed research, to look further. Garvan painstakingly traced the history of the building back to two quitclaim deeds.

The first deed, dated October 1758, transferred ownership of eighteen rods of land from Henry Allyn to John Strong for fifty shillings.

In the second, dated August 1762, Strong transferred the same real estate to Alexander Allyn for ninety-five pounds, almost forty times the value of the previous quitclaim. This document stated “said land hath a dwelling house, well and small barn…” which accounts for the added value. It was not a decision made easily; but, faced with this evidence, the Society renamed the Fyler House the Strong House in 2000.

It is no surprise that a structure more than 250 years old has restoration needs. The first step for the Society was to determine those needs more exactly. In the winter of 2005, funded by a grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, architectural consultant Tom Paske began an extensive examination of the building’s structure and condition. Paske’s findings confirmed Garvan’s research and added to our knowledge about how the house evolved. Paske determined that the people who occupied the home for the longest period and made the most changes to the Strong’s original structure were the Howards, who owned the home from 1772 to 1837. As the Howard family grew, they extended their modest home with lean-tos and wings. The changes they made are what you experience when you tour through the building today. Faced with this evidence, and again after much deliberation, our Board of Directors voted in June of 2012 to rename the structure the Strong-Howard House in acknowledgement of the two families that built this home.