George Warner House, Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 1006 Windsor Avenue in Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1788, and was originally the home of George Warner. He was in his mid-20s at the time, and a few years later he married his wife, Abigail “Nabby” Mills. They had two children, who were also named Abigail and George, and the older George lived here until his death in 1827. Three years later, his daughter Abigail married Willard Loomis, and their first child, Walter, was born here in this house in June 1830, four months after their marriage.

Willard and Abigail had a second child, who was also named Abigail, but Willard died in 1840, at the age of 35. Walter was just 10 at the time, and within a year he had left school and was helping to support his family by working for farmers and brickmakers in the area. In 1845, when he was 15, the railroad opened through Windsor, and Walter was hired as the first station agent at the town’s depot. His responsibilities included selling tickets and handling baggage and freight, and he earned a salary of $5.50 per month. However, he did not care for the work, and after six months he returned to farming. By the 1850 census, he was listed as a farmer, and he was living here with all three generations of Abigails. His grandmother, Nabby, died the following year at the age of 79, but his mother was still living here in 1863, when he married Lucy M. Wilson.

In the 1870 census, Walter was listed as a farmer and a brickmaker, with real estate worth $5,010 and a personal estate of $1,760. His farm here included 50 acres of improved land, plus an additional 10 acres of unimproved land. His livestock included two horses, eleven head of cattle, and three pigs, and his farm produced 1,500 pounds of tobacco, 75 bushels of potatoes, 400 pounds of potatoes, and 30 tons of hay. At the time, he and Lucy had four young children: Edwin, Delia, Fanny, and Walter Marshall. They had one more daughter, Lucy, who was born in 1872, but the older Lucy died a week later, and the infant Lucy lived for only four months.

Throughout the 1870s, Walter continued to operate his farm here, with the 1880 census showing similar numbers of livestock and harvested crops. He also continued his brickmaking business, and in the early 1870s he even produced the bricks for Mark Twain’s house in Hartford. Walter’s mother Abigail died in 1879, at the age of 73, and a year later he married his second wife, Elizabeth B. Lincoln. However, tragedy struck again in 1881, when his 17-year-old daughter Delia died.

By the late 1890s, Walter and Elizabeth were living here with Elizabeth’s great aunt, Anna Maria Benton, who lived here under Elizabeth’s care until her death in 1898, at the age of 101. Around the same time, Walter’s youngest son, W. Marshall Loomis, married his wife Clara E. Nixon, and they lived here with Walter and Elizabeth for many years. Marshall continued the operation of the family farm, and focused primarily on tobacco and dairy products.

Walter Loomis died here in 1922, in the same house where he had been born 92 years earlier. Clara also died in 1922, at the age of 51, and Elizabeth died three years later. Marshall subsequently remarried to his second wife, Grace, and they were still living here when the first photo was taken around the late 1930s. He retired from farming in the late 1940s, when he was nearly 80 years old, and he proved to have his father’s longevity, living here in this house until his death in 1959, at the age of 90.

W. Marshall Loomis’s death ended four generations and over 170 years of his family’s ownership of this house. The property has not been an active farm in many years, and most of the surrounding area has since been developed as a suburb of Hartford. However, the house itself has not significantly changed since the first photo was taken around 80 years ago, and the house still stands as one of the many well-preserved 18th century homes in Windsor.

Oliver W. Mills House, Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 148 Deerfield Road in Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This brick, Federal-style house was built in 1824, and was originally the home of Oliver W. Mills, who built it shortly before his 1825 marriage to Anna Phelps. Mills was a farmer, but he was also a brickmaker, and he produced the bricks that were used in the construction of his house. His was one of many small-scale brickworks that operated in Windsor during the first half of the 19th century, and by 1850 Mills employed three workers and produced 300,000 bricks per year. He and Anna went on to live here for the rest of their lives, and they had five children: Oliver, Helen, Mary, Alfred, and Arthur.

The younger Oliver inherited this house after his father’s death in 1866, and during the 1870 census he was living here with his mother, plus his wife Sarah and their two young children, Annie and Oliver. He was listed as a farmer, with real estate valued at $11,400 and a personal estate of $2,085, for a net worth of over $250,000 in today’s dollars. The subsequent census, in 1880, provides a more detailed account of the farm’s productivity, which included eight acres of tilled land, 22 acres of pastureland and orchards, and 100 acres of woodland. In 1879, the farm had a diversified output that included 400 pounds of butter, 800 dozen eggs, 100 bushels of corn, 30 bushels of rye, 200 bushels of potatoes, and 4,000 pounds of tobacco.

Sarah died in 1899, and Oliver in 1901, but the house would remain in the family for many more years. His son Oliver inherited the property, and lived here with his wife Catherine and their daughter Marguerite. Like his predecessors, he ran a farm here, but he also worked for many years for the National Biscuit Company, the company known today as Nabisco. Marguerite became a kindergarten teacher, and was later involved in a number of community organizations, ranging from the Windsor Historical Society to the Garden Club of Windsor. She and her parents were still living here when the first photo was taken, but Oliver died soon after, in 1943. Catherine died 10 years later, and Marguerite remained here as the fourth and last generation of the Mills family to live here, owning the house until her death in 1985.

Today, most of the former Mills farm has been developed. Logans Way, a short cul-de-sac, is now located directly behind the house, with an industrial development further in the distance. Just to the left of the house, high voltage power lines now cross the property. However, the house itself is still standing, and remains an excellent example of brick, Federal-style architecture. Very little has changed in its appearance since the first photo was taken about 80 years ago, and the house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Amos Eno House, Simsbury, Connecticut

The house at 731 Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1822 as the home of Elisha Phelps, who belonged to one of the leading families of Simsbury. His father, Noah Phelps, was a lawyer and judge who served as an officer during the American Revolution, and later served as major general in the state militia. Likewise, Elisha became a lawyer, graduating from Yale and from Litchfield Law School before being admitted to the bar in 1803. He married his wife, Lucy Smith, in 1810, and they had five children, although their first two died in infancy.

Aside from his law practice, Elisha Phelps had an extensive political career. He served in the state House of Representatives in 1807, 1812, 1814-1818, before being elected to Congress as one of Connecticut’s at-large representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served one term, from 1819 to 1821, before returning to the state legislature, where he served as Speaker of the House in 1821, and as a state senator from 1822 to 1824. He was subsequently re-elected to two terms in Congress, from 1825 to 1829, and then served for another year as the state’s Speaker of the House in 1829, before becoming the state comptroller from 1831 to 1837.

When Elisha and Lucy Phelps moved into this house in 1822, they had three surviving children. The oldest, John, was about eight years old at the time, and their daughters Lucy and Mary were about four and three, respectively. The three of them would spend the rest of their childhood here, and John would go on to attend Trinity College in Hartford, graduating in 1832. Like his father and grandfather, John became a lawyer, and in 1837 he moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he would become a prominent politician. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1845 to 1863, and as a colonel in the Union army during the Civil War. He was appointed by Abraham Lincoln as military governor of Arkansas in 1862, although the Senate never confirmed his appointment. However, he later went on to become governor of Missouri, serving from 1877 to 1881.

In the meantime, Elisha Phelps lived here in this house until his death in 1847, and his son-in-law, Amos Eno, inherited the property. Eno was also a Simsbury native, and had married Elisha’s daughter Lucy in 1836. However, the couple moved to New York City, where Eno established himself as a merchant and real estate developer. He invested heavily in Manhattan real estate, including building the Fifth Avenue Hotel at Madison Square in 1859. At the time, Madison Square was considered too far uptown for a fashionable hotel, but the location proved to be ideal as the city grew. He also owned land at Longacre Square, which was later renamed Times Square, and he owned a number of undeveloped lots on the Upper West Side. By the time he died in 1898, Eno’s various real estate investments were valued at over $20 million, or around $600 million in 2018 dollars.

Amos Eno’s primary residence was in New York City, but he maintained this house as his summer home, far removed from the heat, crowds, and smells of the city. During one such summer, in 1865, his grandson, Gifford Pinchot, was born here in this house. The son of James W. Pinchot and Amos’s daughter Mary, Gifford would go on to become perhaps the most notable of the many prominent descendants of Elisha Phelps. Like many of his ancestors, Gifford Pinchot attended Yale, graduating in 1889. He became a forester and conservationist, and in 1897 joined Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation-oriented Boone and Crockett Club.

In 1898, Pinchot was appointed as the nation’s Chief of the Division of Forestry, serving under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1905, the Division of Forestry was reorganized as the United States Forest Service, and he became the agency’s first chief. He would remain in this position until 1910, when William Howard Taft, Roosevelt’s hand-picked successor in the White House, dismissed him following a dispute between Pinchot and the Secretary of the Interior. Roosevelt took this dismissal personally, as Pinchot was a close friend, and the controversy helped lead to the 1912 split in the Republican Party, between Roosevelt’s progressive wing and Taft’s more conservative wing.

Pinchot would become a major figure in the progressive movement of the 1910s, and served as president of the National Conservation Commission from 1910 to 1925. He was also touted as a possible Progressive Party candidate for president in 1916, although Pinchot declined interest and the party ultimately endorsed Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes. However, Pinchot’s political career continued in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he served as governor from 1923 to 1927, and 1931 to 1935.

During Pinchot’s rise to national prominence, his birthplace here in Simsbury remained in his extended family. He spent many summers at the house during his childhood, and in later years would often visit his grandparents here. Amos Eno died in 1898, only a few months before Pinchot’s appointment to head the Division of Forestry, and his summer home in Simsbury was inherited by his daughter, Antoinette Wood. She made substantial alterations to the house, including having the original gabled roof replaced with a large gambrel roof, and adding a large wing to the rear of the house. She also hired prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York’s Central Park, to create new landscaping plans for the property.

Antoinette Wood owned the house until her death in 1930, only a few years before the first photo was taken. It would remain in the Eno family until 1948, when it was sold and became a restaurant, known as The Simsbury House. Then, in 1960, it was purchased by the town of Simsbury, and underwent extensive renovations in 1985. The house is now the Simsbury 1820 House bed and breakfast, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places, as both an individual listing and as a contributing property in the Simsbury Center Historic District.

Moses Rowe House, Suffield, Connecticut

The house at 78 South Main Street in Suffield, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house in the center of Suffield was built in 1767 as the home of Moses Rowe, who lived here with his wife Huldah and their children. They had been married for about ten years when they moved into this house, and were in their early 30s at the time. There seems to be little information about how long the family lived in this house, but Moses lived in Suffield until his death in 1799, and Huldah died in 1822.

At some point in the first half of the 19th century, probably in the 1830s or 1840s, the exterior of the house was modified from its original colonial appearance, in order to bring it in line with architectural tastes of the Greek Revival era. In particular, this included the pilasters on the corners, the wide entablature, and the front doorway. Along with this, the porches on the left and right sides of the house were also added sometime before the first photo was taken.

The first photo was taken about 80 years ago, but very little has changed in this scene, aside from the fence in the front yard. The house is one of the many 18th and early 19th century homes that line Main Street in Suffield, and it is now part of the Suffield Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Daniel Norton House, Suffield, Connecticut

The house at 130 South Main Street in Suffield, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house was apparently built around 1812-1814, although the WPA Architectural Survey indicates that, according to the owner at the time, the oldest part of the house dates back to 1780. The later date seems more reliable, though, and is the date given in the National Register of Historic Places listing. The house was originally owned by Daniel Norton, a veteran of the American Revolution who had responded to the Lexington Alarm in April 1775. However, he died in 1814, right around the same time that this house was built, and his 14-year-old son Daniel Washington Norton inherited the property.

The younger Daniel subsequently became an agent for the newly-established Aetna Fire Insurance Company, and he later went on to have a successful business career. He was involved in several local industries, including the Windsor Knitting Factory, the Lacowsic Woolen Company, and the Eagle Paper Mill. Along with this, he was a partner in the cigar-making company of Loomis and Norton, and he was a founder and the first president of the First National Bank of Suffield.

Daniel married Mindwell Pease in 1822, and they had five children: Elizabeth, Lucy, Mary, John, and Emily. Mindwell died in 1857, and two years later Daniel remarried to Augusta F. Knowles. During this time, Daniel continued to live in this house, and he would remain here for the rest of his life. In the 1870 census, four years before his death, he was living here with Augusta and two of his children, and his real estate was valued at $10,000. This was a good amount of money at the time, but it paled in comparison to the value of his personal estate, which was listed as $129,000, equivalent to over $2.5 million today.

Although Daniel died in 1874, the house would remain in his family for many more years. In the early 20th century, the property was owned by his son, John H. Norton, and it was in turn inherited by John’s son, Harry D. Norton. Harry died in 1929, but the house was still owned by his estate around a decade later when the first photo was taken. By this point, the house was around 125 years old, and it had undergone some renovations over the years. Since then, though, very little has changed in this scene, aside from the removal of the porch on the left side and the loss of the two massive trees in the front yard, and today the house is one of the many historic homes that line Main Street in the center of Suffield.

Jonathan Rising House, Suffield, Connecticut

The house at 472 South Main Street in Suffield, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house is located at the southern end of South Main Street, right where the road curves to the southeast, toward Windsor Locks. It was built around 1750, and was the home of Jonathan Rising, Jr., who moved in here shortly after his 1749 marriage to Rebecca Mather. They were both in their early 20s at the time, and together they would have eight children: Rebecca, Jonathan, Eli, Silence, Lucina, Eusebius, Asa, and Apollos. It does not seem clear as to how long the family lived in this house, but Jonathan and Rebecca lived in Suffield until their deaths in the 1790s.

Aside from the fact that Jonathan Rising lived here in 1750, the historical record appears to provide few details about the subsequent history of this house. When the first photo was taken around the late 1930s as part of the WPA Architectural Survey, the house was listed as being just in “fair” condition, but the survey provided few other details about the home. However, it seems to have retained much of its original exterior appearance, and today it is one of the many well-preserved colonial-era homes that form the Suffield Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.