Archive for the ‘Windham’ Category

St. Joseph’s School (1907)

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 Posted in Renaissance Revival, Schools, Windham | No Comments »

The building at 21 Valley Street in Willimantic was built in 1907 as a school by St. Joseph Catholic Parish. As described in A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1920)

The school was established by the late [Rev.] Florimond DeBruycker, and he was the first principal, taking a constant and devoted interest in the work, from the beginning in 1878 until his death in 1902.

The first school sessions were held in April, 1878, with six Sisters of Charity of Tilburg, Holland, in charge. Sessions were held in the basement of the church for the boys and in the convent (now the Nurses’ Home) for the girls. The number of children increased so rapidly that another building was erected two years later on Valley Street, which remained in use until torn down in 1907 to make room for a more pretentious structure.

Today, St. Mary-St. Joseph School is located next door, at 35 Valley Street. The former St. Joseph School building has most recently been used as an adult education center.

Guilford Smith House (1877)

Monday, November 6th, 2017 Posted in Houses, Queen Anne, Stick Style, Windham | No Comments »

Guilford Smith (1839-1923), who left his childhood home in South Windham to become a library, built his own house nearby in 1877. Located at 9 Main Street, it is an elaborately decorated Victorian residence. According to a biography of Smith in Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, Vol. VII (1910):

Guilford Smith, of Windham, who was horn in South Windham. May 12, 1839, is the son Charles and Mary A. Smith, and is descended from Governor William Bradford of the Mayflower colony. He was educated in the public schools of his native town and at Hall’s School at Ellington. When nineteen years of age, he entered the office of Smith, Winchester & Co., as a clerk, passing through all the departments. Upon the death of his father, he succeeded him, being now president and treasurer of the now The Smith. Winchester Mfg. Co. He is also president of the Windham National Bank of Willimantic, a director of the New London and Northern Railway, and president of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Willimantic. On December 16, 1863, Mr. Smith married Mary Ramsdall. daughter of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth (Lathrop) Ramsdall. He is one of the leading citizens of South Windham, is active in church and civil affairs, has represented his town in the General Assembly in 1883, and filled various local official stations. He is a member of the Ecclesiastical Society of the Congregational Church, whose house of worship was built chiefly at his expense. He is also a member of the Society of Mayflower descendants. He faithfully served as a member of the Committee on Banks [in the State Assembly].

Guilford Smith Memorial Library (1836)

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 Posted in Greek Revival, Houses, Libraries, Windham | No Comments »

In 1836, Charles Smith (1807-1893) built a Greek Revival house on Main Street in South Windham. The following year, he and Harvey Winchester bought a nearby factory that they used for the manufacture of paper, forming the Smith & Winchester Company. Charles Smith‘s son, Guilford Smith (1839-1923), was born in the house. He was a wealthy philanthropist who left $25,000 for the establishment of a library in South Windham. A trust and Board of Trustees were established for in 1930 and the new Guilford Smith Memorial Library, occupying the old Smith House, opened on April 4, 1931.

Mary B. Clark House (1896)

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 Posted in Houses, Queen Anne, Windham | No Comments »

The house at 74 Windham Street in Willimantic was built for Mary B. Clark in 1896, four years after the town selectmen voted to extend Windham Street north from Valley Street, opening lots near the new Willimantic Normal School. Born in 1844 in Coventry, Mary Bidwell Winchester was the niece of the founder of the Smith and Winchester Company, paper manufacturers in South Windham. She married and later divorced Daniel S. Clark Jr., a machinist who was five years her junior. After the divorce, Mary Clark became wealthy investing in real estate, however in late 1905 her behavior was becoming erratic. She became terrified her house would be burgled while she slept. She kept the lights on all night and fired her revolver at sheets on the close-line outside that she believed might be potential burglars. When the police arrived to investigate, they were threatened with a “dose of lead.” Mrs. Clark was arrested for discharging firearms in the city limits. She was eventually taken to the Hartford Retreat for the Insane, where she remained until her death in 1929 at the age of 84.

There is an interesting article detailing the history of the house: Part One|Part Two|Part Three.

See also, “Her Mind Shies at Burglars. Conservator Appointed for Willimantic Woman. Is Sane Except at Mention of Thieves,” (Hartford Courant, December 7, 1905).

Origen A. Sessions House (1875)

Monday, August 14th, 2017 Posted in Folk Victorian, Houses, Windham | No Comments »

The house at 283 Prospect Street in Willimantic was built c. 1875. It was originally the home of Origen A. Sessions (1842-1919), an undertaker (just across the street, at 284 Prospect Street, lived another undertaker, William Cummings). As related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties, Connecticut (1903), Sessions worked from 1862 to 1872 for J. E. Cushman before

he began business for himself in the Atwood Block, where Puritan & Reade now are. From the start Mr. Sessions was engaged in the undertaking and furniture business, with which he combined frame making for all kinds of pictures. In addition to this line, he also conducted “dollar stores.” in both Willimantic and Stafford, his store at the latter place being the first of the kind and in these ventures he was associated with C. W. Raynes, under the firm name of O. A. Sessions & Company.

Mr. Sessions was the first occupant of the old Hamlin Block, where he maintained his store for several years. which was next established at No. 677 Main street, remaining at that point from the month of December, 1891, to April 1, 1902, when it was removed to the corner of North and Valley streets, in a building of which Mr. Sessions is half owner. In undertaking there has been a vast change since Mr. Sessions was first associated with it, and it is but strict truth to say that he has kept pace with every advance in his art. It is a work for which his fine taste, delicacy of thought and expression toward his patrons, and a tender respect and sympathy for their feelings, give him a peculiar fitness. His store is fully furnished with all the appliances for the successful management of his business, including a fine and new rubber-tired hearse, which for beauty of design and artistic workmanship cannot be surpassed anywhere. Mr. Sessions devotes special attention to embalming, and uses a preparation that preserves the features in a life-like expression. His services are in demand throughout Eastern Connecticut, and to every case he still gives his personal attention, after a business career of over thirty-eight years.

Smith & Winchester Manufacturing Company (1908)

Friday, June 16th, 2017 Posted in Industrial, Italianate, Windham | No Comments »

The former factory complex of the Smith & Winchester Manufacturing Company, which produced paper making machinery, is located at 11 Machine Shop Hill Road in South Windham. The main building displays two dates: 1828 and 1908. The latter is probably the date that particular building was constructed. The former date is when Phelps & Spafford, the forerunners of Smith & Winchester, were first established in South Windsor. That company closed in 1837 and was sold to Charles Smith and Harvey Winchester. The company continued manufacturing through the 1960s.

First Congregational Church of South Windham (1902)

Sunday, March 5th, 2017 Posted in Churches, Folk Victorian, Gothic, Queen Anne, Windham | No Comments »

The early religious history of the village of South Windham (part of the town of Windham) is provided by Richard M. Bayles in his History of Windham County, Connecticut (1889):

The only church of this village is an offshoot from the Congregational church of Windham. For twenty-five years, more or less, services have been conducted here on occasional Sabbaths or on week-day evenings. The old Fitch school house is used for religious services. This is a building once intended for a private school, and is rented of private owners for religious services. It stands near and is connected with the Warner House, a hotel of commodious size standing near the depot of the New London Northern railroad. It is now owned by Alfred Kinne. For a few years back religious services on Sunday have been omitted, but in March, 1888, a Society of Christian Endeavor was formed here, and in the following December a church was organized, which now numbers eighteen members. During the winter a revival occurred. Since December 7th, 1888, preaching services have been held every Sunday afternoon by the pastor of the old church at Windham Centre. A Sunday school is also maintained here.

Once this church, which was a branch of the Windham Congregational Church, was established in the village in 1888, a Ladies’ Missionary Society was also formed which began collecting for a fund to erect a church edifice in South Windham. As related in the Hartford Courant (“Church Dedication,” October 22, 1902):

President Guilford Smith of the Smith Winchester Company became interested in the project and it was very largely through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Smith that the branch society is now possessed of the beautiful church. The donations of Mr. and Mrs. Smith were supplemented by those of almost every one who resided in the village and by many who lived out of the place, but had it not been for the generous gifts of land and money by Mr. and Mrs. Smith it is not likely that the society would have realized its long cherish[ed] hope for many years.

The Courant article further concluded that “probably no manufacturing village of the size can boast of so finely appointed and convenient a church building.” The church, located at 361 South Windham Street, was dedicated on October 21, 1902.