Last week, I featured some of the public-use buildings around the Windsor Connecticut Historic Green. An interesting fact about those buildings, is that most of them are not historic buildings. Only the original section of the Library is on the Registry of Historic Buildings. Ironically, the Green itself is on the Registry, and the buildings in and around the area are designated as either “contributing” or “non-contributing” structures in the historic district. One of the buildings featured today is a contributing structure, but it’s not as old as I thought it would be and I had to dig for a while before it became interesting.
The building at 289 Broad Street is known (in most sources) as The Huntington House. It was built by Henry and Mary Huntington in 1901. Mary Huntington gives this post a connection to Norm, as the Windsor Chamber of Commerce mentions that:
“Henry Arthur Huntington was born March 12, 1856, in Windsor, Connecticut and married Mary Margaret Dryden, born on July 12, 1872 in Montreal, Canada, on February 27, 1900.”
Norm, for those of you that might be unaware, is Norm Frampton. He is from (or near) Montreal, Canada and he is the Father of Thursday Doors. Each week, Norm establishes a landing page for door
freaks aficionados from around the world to share their door photos, drawings, stories and bits of door history, if they’re so inclined. To join this weekly celebration of doors, visit Norm’s place up in Canada. Check out his doors, some of which might have been familiar to Mary Huntington, and then click on the blue frog.
Back in Windsor, it seems that Henry and Mary were simple folk. Henry was a lawyer with a law office in Hartford and he and Mary had at least two children, Clark and Walter. Walter was murdered in 1929, a crime that still remains unsolved today. Clark lived in the house with his parents and continued living there after his mother died in 1968.
According to my best friend, John (who used to live off the green), the Huntington House fell into a “terrible state of disrepair after the mother died.” He added: “at one point, the unpainted house had become such an eyesore, that someone painted the (visible) front and the right side, but left the back and left side unpainted.”
When Clark died, in 1998, the house and property were rezoned for commercial purposes. A non-profit group restored the house and established the Huntington House Museum in 2001. Unfortunately, public support for the museum was lacking and it was forced to close in 2005. In 2006, the J. Morrissey Company, an Executive Search firm, converted the building into offices. In case you’re interested in the property details:
Square footage 5,257
Year built 1901
Tax amount $20,663
Land value $173,600
Building value $762,900
Total value $936,500
Across the street from the green are a few other buildings that are featured in today’s gallery. Among them is a bank building, and the old Windsor Post Office which now serves as the Windsor VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). A long commercial building, The Plaza Building once housed several businesses and a movie theater on the ground level and several professional offices on the upper floors.
John lived on the side street across from the Plaza Building. When he lived there, the theater was still open for business, along with an ice cream shop that provided a nice treat after watching a movie. The rest of the ground floor was a hardware store that I loved to wander around in. The last movie we saw there was “Sophie’s Choice”. The hardware store is still in business, but it only occupies a small fraction of the space. The remaining space was carved into multiple retail segments, many of which are empty today.
The Town of Windsor has considered traffic changes to make the Historic Green more pedestrian friendly. One plan calls for choking Broad Street down to two lanes, providing space for parking, cyclists and walkers, with the hope of bringing more retail businesses into the area. I can’t imagine the traffic problems that would result, as the Green lies at the junction of several busy and important roads. The challenge looms large, but the value of this historic resource is too great to be lost to a slow decline.