The house at 106 Windham Street in Willimantic was built in 1894 for Giles H. Alford (1827-1900). Born in Otis, Massachusetts, Alford studied at the Westfield Normal School and became a teacher in Windsor. As described in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham counties, Connecticut (1903):
In 1851 Mr. Alford went to Riverton, Conn., to take a position as clerk in the store of his uncle, Alfred Alford, who was extensively engaged in the furniture business at that point. At this time he made his first visit to Willimantic, part of his work being to deliver a load of chairs to a customer in that city. After a short time spent with his uncle, Mr. Alford bought out the Union Shoe Co., of Riverton. then comprising a general store, and this was his first business venture. Although he incurred a heavy load of debt, he pulled through, and became the sole owner of the establishment. During the first years of the Civil war Henry Alford cared for the store while Giles H. Alford was engaged in Virginia and Maryland as a sutler with Gen. McClellan’s army in 1861 and 1862.
In 1862 Mr. Alford removed to Willimantic, Riverton not affording as broad a field as he desired. In company with his cousin, James Alford, he opened a grocery store on Main street, in the present location of Purinton & Reade, but the close confinement soon undermined their health, and both retired from the store, Giles H., exchanging his interest for a farm belonging to Chauncey Turner in Mansfield, to which point he removed at once. Farm life restored his health, and after about two years he was again strong and rugged. According[ly] he sold the farm and became a traveling salesman for the Upson Nut Co., of Unionville, Conn. He came into contact with machine manufacturers, and for eight years followed the road. During this time his family lived at Unionville, but later removed to Willimantic. It was also during this time that Mr. Alford bought the bankrupt hardware stock of Mr. Simpson, and put it in charge of his oldest son. Upon his retirement from the road he went into this business himself. C. N. Andrew was at one time a partner with him, and later bought his interest in that store. At a later period Mr. Alford opened the hardware store where he is found at the present time, in company with his son, the firm being G. H. Alford & Son. This son was Howard R. Alford, and on his death, his brother, Carl R., succeeded to his interest, and the firm is unchanged in its title.
The house at 17 Windham Green in Windham was built c. 1765 by Shubael Abbe (1744-1804). The main entrance to the house was remodeled c. 1950. A WPA photo of the house (which is #54 in the Nomination for the Windham Center Historic District) shows that this remodeling replaced a Victorian portico with a similar design to the surviving bay window and door hood on the north side of the house).
As related in the History of Ancient Windham (1864) by William L. Weaver
Shubael Abbe resided at Windham Center, and was an esteemed and highly respected citizen, active and useful in town, church and State affairs. He graduated at Yale College in 1764, and held many offices of trust, among them, sheriff of Windham County, a commissioner of the School Fund, often a representative to the Legislature, &c.
[. . .] He m[arried] Lucy Chester, Jan. 26, 1774; he d[ied] suddenly, April 16, 1804; she d[ied] June 21, 1818, aged 66. The Rev. Elijah Waterman, his son-in-law, makes the following entry in the Windham Church records respecting his death: “April 16, 1804, Shubael Abbe, aged 59, of an apoplectic fit, between the hours of nine and ten in the morning. He had made every preparation and arranged all his business for the purpose of going to Hartford as a manager of the School Fund. He went out at the door to see that his horse was ready, and as he was returning in to take leave of his family, as usual, he was suddenly struck with apoplexy, and sallied down in the arms of his wife speechless; and, though immediately let blood, he died in a few minutes.[“]
Fifteen years after Shubael Abbe‘s death, his house was acquired by Dr. Chester Hunt (1789-1869). The property included a small office behind the house, which Dr. Hunt used until his death and which now stands on Windham Green. As described in A Modern History of Windham County, Vol. II (1920):
Dr. Chester Hunt, as previously stated, purchased his home at the southwest corner of the Windham Green in 1819, following the death of Sheriff Abbe, who had occupied that place. Dr. Hunt, both of his wives and all of his children died in this house. His last child, Mrs. James M. Hebard, bequeathed the entire property to the present owner, Miss Mary Delia Little, who was a daughter of Dr. Hunt’s sister, Nancy (Hunt) Little, of Columbia. Miss Little was born in Columbia, her parents being George and Nancy (Hunt) Little. She acquired her education in the district and private schools of Columbia and then took up the profession of teaching, which she followed for many years in Columbia, Glastonbury, Burnside and East Hartford, contributing much to the educational advancement of the communities in which she put forth her efforts. She now occupies the old Hunt home, one of the most attractive residences bordering the Windham Green.
The house at 28 North Road in Windham was built c. 1780. It is believed to have been built by Isaac Clark, a carpenter-builder from Canterbury. The house has an elaborate Palladian-inspired front facade.
Samuel J. Miller, who had been a clerk at Willimantic Linen, moved to a house built in 1896 at 315 Prospect Street after he became clerk and treasurer for the City of Willimantic. He appears to have served in the Civil War and was a captain in the militia.
The First Congregational Church of Windham was formally organized in 1700, having met informally since 1692. The church’s first meeting house, built c. 1697-1700, was replaced by a larger one (or else the original one was enlarged) c. 1713-1716. A new building was constructed in 1751-1755 and pulled down in 1848 to build another. The current church was built in 1887. It is now known as the Windham Center Church and is not a member of any denomination.
Born in Norwich in 1717, Jedediah Elderkin graduated from Yale and studied law. He settled with his family in Windham in 1745. Elderkin and his next door neighbor and friend, Eliphalet Dyer, were the leading lawyers at the time in eastern Connecticut. Elderkin served many terms in the General Assembly and as Justice of the Peace. He was also a large landowner and manufacturer, notable as a pioneer of silk production in Connecticut. With the coming of the Revolutionary War, Elderkin became a member of the Governor’s Council of Safety and was commissioned as Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. A close associate of Governor John Trumbull, he undertook many difficult missions, including the conversion of a foundry in Salisbury into a cannon works and the building of a gunowder mill at Willimantic. Elderkin‘s last public service, before his death in 1793, was to attend the state convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States. His house in Windham, at 11 North Road, was built circa 1710. It has several eighteenth and nineteenth century additions.
Col. Eliphalet Dyer (1721-1807) was one of Connecticut’s notable figures from the period of the Revolutionary War. Born in Windham, he graduated from Yale in 1740 and in 1746 became a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. Dyer was a founder and leader of the Susquehannah Company, which focused on settling the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania. During the French and Indian War, Dyer was a Lt. Colonel in the militia as part of the expedition to capture Fort Crown Point from the French in 1755 and then, as a Colonel in 1758, he led a regiment in support of Amherst’s and Wolfe’s operations in Canada. Dyer served in the Connecticut legislature from 1742 to 1784 and in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1783 (except for 1776 and 1779). Appointed to the Council of Safety in 1775, Dyer served until it was disbanded in 1783. Dyer’s daughter Amelia was married to Joseph Trumbull, who also served in the Continental Congress. A justice of Connecticut’s superior court, Eliphalet Dyer was Chief Justice from 1789 until 1793, when he retired to Windham. His home there was a colonial house (17 North Road) built circa 1705-1715.