The house at 290 Prospect Street in Willimantic was built in 1888 for Samuel E. Amidon, a successful grocery store owner. After Amidon’s death, the house had other owners. In 1984 it was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich. Called Newman Hall, it is now the Catholic Office of Campus Ministry for members of the Eastern Connecticut State University community. According to the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903):
The Windham Inn is a notable landmark in Windham Center, at the intersection of Scotland Road and Windham Center Road, near Windham Green. Known as the Windham House prior to 1890, the building was constructed in 1783 and was originally three stories. It began to buckle around 1850 and was then reduced to two stories. The three dormer windows were added around the same time. Also added at some point was a front porch, later removed. The Inn, which is believed to be haunted, was converted into apartments in the mid-twentieth century. The inn sign from the 1890s is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society.
Windham Free Library, on the Green in Windham Center, was originally built, on the former site of the county court house, as the Windham Bank in 1832. The bank moved its operations to Willimantic in 1879 and other commercial establishments soon followed, as Windham Center changed from being a business district into a primarily residential area. The Greek Revival building then stood vacant until it was converted into a museum, displaying a temporary “Exhibition of Relics,” on the occasion of Windham’s bi-centennial, celebrated in 1892. Now it serves as Connecticut’s smallest freestanding library. Established in 1897, the Library displays historical artifacts, including the Windham Bacchus, carved out of wood by British prisoners of war, one of whom was a ship’s carpenter, who were being held in the Windham jail in 1776. They carved the Figure of Bacchus as a parting gift, at the time of their escape, for their widowed landlady, who was also a tavern keeper.
Located on Windham Center Green and owned by the adjacent Windham Library is the small gambrel-roofed former office of Dr. Chester Hunt. Built in 1790, it originally served as the office of Sheriff Shubel Abbe and was located behind his house at the south end of Windham Green. Abbe’s property was purchased in 1819 by Dr. Chester Hunt who then used the office until his death in 1869. Moved in 1948 to a spot between two other houses on North Road, the building was moved again in the 1980s to its current location where it was restored in honor of Julian Alden Weir and his wife, Ella Baker Weir, by his daughter, Cora Weir Burlingham and grandson, Charles Burlingham, Jr. The Library has recently renovated the office’s exterior and there are plans to open it as a museum.
A house in Windham Center was built in 1790 for Samuel Grey, one of the town’s most influential citizens. The house, also known as the Perkins House, was rebuilt around 1835 in the Greek Revival style.
Jerome B. Baldwin was a merchant in Willimantic. Born in Mansfield in 1843, he served in the Twenty-First Connecticut Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Baldwin was partner with Frank F. Webb in the Baldwin & Webb clothing and furniture store in Willimantic and served in the state legislature in 1885. His house, on Prospect Street in Willimantic, was also built in 1885 and is an example of the Stick style.
In 1889, Joseph Dwight Chaffee bought what was considered to be the most desirable lot in Willimantic and built an impressive Queen Anne house on the property. As stated in The Chaffee Genealogy (1909), Joseph Dwight Chaffee
was born in Mansfield, Conn., August 9, 1846, and married there, September 12, 1867, Martha W., daughter of George P. Armstrong of that place. Mr. Chaffee has served in the Connecticut Legislature as Representative and also as Senator from the Twenty-Fourth District. He has been associated with his father in the business of manufacture of silk under the firm name of O. S. Chaffee & Son, later called the Natchaug Silk Company of Willimantic, Conn. In 1883 he lived in Mansfield, and in 1894 in Willimantic.
He was known as Colonel Chaffee, after serving on Governor Phineas Lounsbury‘s staff from 1887 until 1889. In 1895, a financial scandal led to the liquidation of the Natchaug Silk Company and the arrest and trial of J. D. Chaffee for fraud (the company had been capitalized in a fraudulent manner by the First National Bank of Willimantic, a fact discovered when the bank’s cashier committed suicide and the bank was investigated). Chaffee later operated, with his son, another manufacturing company, known for its Natchaug Silk Braided Fish Lines. He later llived in the factory’s basement, after the company closed in 1927, until his death in 1938 at the age of 92. His former house on Summit Street in Willimantic was restored in the late-1990s.