The house at 6 Poquonock Avenue in Windsor was built around 1871 by Daniel Mack on land he had acquired from Horace Bower. The building has substantial twentieth-century additions and is now used as for apartments and offices. Daniel Mack worked at the Mack Brickyard in Windsor, founded by his father William Mack in 1830. Daniel Mack also owned a house on Mack Street.
Today I’m featuring the infamous Archer-Gilligan Murder House in Windsor. The play and film Arsenic and Old Lace was inspired by the true story of Amy Archer-Gilligan (1873-1962), AKA “Sister Amy,” who ran the house at 37 Prospect Street (built c. 1875-1880) as the Archer Home for the Elderly and Infirm. She and her first husband, James Archer, had earlier run a home for the elderly in Newington, moving to Windsor in 1907. James Archer died in 1910, a few weeks after his wife had taken out an insurance policy on him. In 1913 Amy married her second husband, Michael W. Gilligan, a wealthy widower with four adult sons. He died on February 20, 1914, again leaving her financially secure. Between 1907 and 1916 there were 60 deaths of her clients in the Archer home, 48 of them from 1911 to 1916, many of whom passed away after paying her large sums of money. Suspicious relatives of her clients brought the story to the Hartford Courant, which published several articles on the “Murder Factory.” A police investigation followed. Exhumations of the bodies of Gilligan and four others revealed that they had been poisoned. Archer-Gilligan had also been purchasing large quantities of arsenic. A jury found her guilty of murdering one of her tenants in 1917 and she was sentenced to death. In 1919, on appeal, she was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1924 she was declared temporarily insane and was transferred to the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane in Middletown, where she remained until her death.
Built around 1833 by Timothy Dwight Mills, the house at 184 Deerfield Road in Windsor is an example of one of the many brick houses constructed in town in the early nineteenth century. Timothy Dwight Mills (1803-1846), who married Sarah Welles, was a farmer and brickmaker. His brothers, Samuel Webster Mills and Oliver Williams Mills, also had houses on Deerfield Road. The porch was added in 1910.
The Giles Barber House is an “L”-shaped plan Federal/Greek Revival style residence at 411-413 Windsor Avenue in Windsor. It was built c. 1825 using bricks made nearby, at brickyards on the east side of Windsor Avenue.
Built in 1752, the saltbox house at 1174 Windsor Avenue in Windsor was the home of Capt. Nathaniel Loomis. This may be Capt. Nathaniel Loomis III (1719-1784). A Windsor Historical Society House Tour in 2010 included the Loomis House, where visitors could hear Harriet Loomis (1784-1876) describe the hardships of the Revolutionary War. I don’t know her relationship to Capt. Nathaniel Loomis.
Brick-making was once very important industry in Windsor and the town boasts numerous brick houses constructed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the Federal and Greek Revival styles. Industrial brick making in Windsor started in 1830 with the founding of the Mack Brick Company. There were also many brick makers with smaller operations, who made bricks by hand. One of these was Oliver W. Mills (1796-1866), whose primary occupation was as a farmer, but who also had a small brickworks near the Connecticut River. His brickworks have been built over, but his modest Federal-style house, constructed with his own bricks in 1824, has survived at 148 Deerfield Road in Windsor.