Captain Nathaniel Hayden House, Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 128 Hayden Station Road in Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

Brick colonial houses are not particularly common in rural New England, but the town of Windsor has an unusual number of such homes that are still standing. This particular house was built around 1763 by Nathaniel Hayden, whose great-great grandfather William Hayden had settled in this area of Windsor more than a century earlier. Nathaniel had grown up across the street from here in his father’s house, but when he was 24 he married Anna Filer, and the couple moved into this new house around the same time.

Like his father, Nathaniel was a farmer, shoemaker, and tanner, but he also served as a captain in the town militia. At the start of the American Revolution, he led a group of 23 Windsor men who marched out following the Lexington Alarm, and he later served as a captain in the Continental Army, where he participated in the Battle of Long Island. However, tragedy struck the Hayden family in early 1776, when Nathaniel’s wife Anna died, at the age of 35.

Two years after Anna’s death, Nathaniel remarried to Rhoda Lyman. He had no children from his first marriage, but he and Rhoda had four children together: Nancy, Nathaniel, Naomi, and Pliney. Nathaniel lived here until his death in 1795, at the age of 57, but the house would remain in his family for many years. Rhoda outlived her husband by nearly 40 years, and lived here along with the younger Nathaniel and his wife Lucretia, whom he married in 1808.

Nathaniel and Lucretia had five children, all sons, who grew up here in this house. Two of their sons, Nathaniel and George, moved out of this house after their marriages, but remained in the Windsor area. Two others, Edward and Uriah, traveled to California in 1849, seeking their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Like most of their fellow Forty-Niners, though, they only had moderate success. Edward would remain in California, but Uriah eventually returned east, where he lived in New York state.

Of the five sons, only the youngest, Samuel, remained here in the family house. He was only nine years old when his mother Lucretia died in 1831, but he lived here with his father and his uncle Pliney, eventually caring for both men in their old age. He married his wife, Sarah L. Halsey, in 1849, and they had one child, Lucretia, who was born in 1851 and named for her grandmother. Nathaniel died in 1864 at the age of 83, and Pliney lived here until his death 11 years later at the age of 89, after having been blind for the last few years of his life.

Lucretia married in the early 1870s, but was widowed at a young age, and by the 1880 census she was living here in this house with her parents. Samuel would remain here in this house until his death in 1900, and his wife Sarah died eight years later. Lucretia appears to have continued to live here for the next decade, until her death in 1918. She had no children, so her death marked the end of over 150 years and four consecutive generations of ownership by the Hayden family.

By the time the first photo was taken around the late 1930s, the house was owned by Willard Drake, a mason whose property also included the neighboring John Hayden House. At the time, it was already recognized as a historically-significant home, and very little has changed in this scene since then. Now over 250 years old, the Nathaniel Hayden House still stands as a good example of a brick, Georgian-style home, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

John Hayden House, Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 160 Hayden Station Road in Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1770 for John Hayden, one of the many members of the Hayden family who lived here in the village of Haydens, located just to the north of the center of Windsor. The main road through here, present-day Hayden Station Road, was once the main road from Windsor to Suffield and points north, and this area was settled in the 1640s by William Hayden. His family would go on to live here for many generations, giving the village its name and building a number of fine colonial houses that still stand today.

John Hayden was the great-great grandson of William Hayden, and was about 20 years old when he built this house. At the time, according to family genealogist Jabez Haskell Hayden in Records of the Connecticut Line of the Hayden Family, John was engaged to Margaret Strong, and this house was to be their home after their wedding. Margaret even participated in a traditional ceremony during the construction, in which the bride-to-be hammered in one of the pins of the house frame. However, according to family tradition, an “unfortunate episode” occurred, and on the night after this event she broke off the engagement.

Margaret went on to marry John’s second cousin, Levi Hayden, in 1772, and about two years later he purchased this house from John, who had, by this point, married Anna Trumbull of East Windsor. A few years later, Levi served in the American Revolution, enlisting as a private in the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons regiment. After the war, he took an active role in town government, including representing Windsor in the state legislature. He and Margaret raised 11 children here in this house, and they went on to live here until Margaret’s death in 1812, at the age of 62.

Levi later remarried to Mary Kent, a widow from Suffield, and he appears to have moved out of this house at some point after Margaret’s death. However, the house would remain in his extended family for many years, and by the late 1800s it was owned by his great-nephew, Samuel Hayden. He lived in the large brick house next door, and rented this house to tenants. It may have been at this point that the house was divided into two units, as seen in the first photograph with the two front doors.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house had been altered from its original colonial-era appearance. Aside from the two front doors, other alterations included the small front porch, as well as the shingled exterior. On the inside, most of the house had been remodeled, although the notes accompanying the photograph indicate that there was still some of the original paneling left in the building. Since then, however, some of the exterior changes have been undone, including the removal of the porch and restoration of a single front door, and today the house looks more historically accurate than it did 80 years ago.

Windsor Grist & Saw Mill, Windsor, Connecticut

The old mill at the corner of Poquonock Avenue and East Street in Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The building in 2017:

According to some historical records, this mill building dates back to 1640, when it was established as perhaps the first grist mill in Connecticut. In reality, the present building was built several centuries later, although this site along the Mill Brook was indeed the location of an early grist mill. It was owned by the town’s first minister, John Warham, and was evidently a sort of employment benefit for him. Like most grist mills of the era, farmers did not directly pay the miller for his services; instead, he was entitled to keep a portion of all the flour that was ground at the mill. Here, Reverend Warham, as the mill owner, was also compensated, receiving one-sixteenth of the ground flour.

The original mill building stood for well over 200 years, and was still used as a grist mill until 1862, when the property was purchased by Earl Simons. He demolished the old building and constructed the current mill, with some accounts suggesting that he may have incorporated some of the old mill’s frame into the new one. Like the old one, it was used as a grist mill, and was powered by a water wheel on the Mill Brook. The subsequent owner, Charles F. Lewis, made some changes after purchasing the property in 1878, rebuilding the mill dam and adding a sawmill to the building. Then, in 1916, his son, Charles T. Lewis, brought 20th century technology to the mill, replacing the old water wheel with a modern electric motor.

The mill remained in the Lewis family for nearly 50 years, until it was finally sold in 1924. Under the new owners, Farmers Grain & Supply Company, the mill became a hardware store in addition to its grain business, and the company still owned the property when the first photo was taken around the late 1930s. The building remained in use as a hardware store through several more ownership changes, and the exterior was significantly modified in the mid-20th century. Shortly after the first photo was taken, the building was expanded with a two-story brick addition on the right side, and by the early 1950s the cupola had been removed and plate glass windows were added to the left side of the first floor.

The hardware store remained in business until very recently, although it had closed by the time the first photo was taken in the spring of 2017. However, the building itself is still standing, and although it is not nearly as old as the nearby historical marker claims, it has become historic in its own right as a surviving example of a mid-19th century grist mill. And, perhaps, some of the timbers from the 1640 mill are still buried within the walls of the building, as relics from the first years of Connecticut’s existence.

For more information on this mill, along with additional photographs, see this article on the Windsor Historical Society website.

Deacon John Moore House, Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 37 Elm Street in Windsor, around 1938-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

The town of Windsor is, arguably, the oldest in Connecticut, and it has no shortage of historic houses. Some of the oldest houses in the state are located here in Windsor, and this house is among the oldest, dating back to around 1664. It has been moved several times and considerably altered over the years, with very little of the original material surviving except for the frame itself, but it still stands as a rare example of post-Medieval architecture in the Connecticut River Valley.

This house was built for John Moore, one of the early settlers of Windsor and a leading citizen here. He and his father, Thomas Moore, had immigrated to America in 1630 and settled in Dorchester, where they lived until 1639, when they moved to the newly-established town of Windsor, located along the banks of the Connecticut River. Here, they joined a number of other Massachusetts expatriates in the new colony, and John soon rose to prominence. He was elected to represent the town in the General Court in 1643, and in 1651 he was ordained as a deacon in the town’s church.

When John Moore built this house around 1664, it was located near here at the corner of Broad and Elm, facing east at the town green. He lived there for the rest of his life, until his death in 1677, and the house remained in his family for several more generations. His only son, John Moore Jr., inherited the house, and subsequently gave it to his son Thomas, who was living here by the 1690s.

The house stood at its original location on Broad Street until around 1805, when it was purchased by William Loomis. He moved it a short distance and attached it to a new house that he had built, with the old Moore house becoming a wing for the kitchen. The conjoined homes were later used as an inn, and they stood attached for nearly a century. At this point, though, the historical significance of the Moore house was already recognized, and it was mentioned in Henry Reed Stiles’s 1859 book The History of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut. In the book, he writes that the house “was in its day, and even within the recollection of some now living, a fine house, but is now degraded to the humble office of a kitchen to a more modern house which occupies its original site.”

This arrangement continued until 1897, when Horace Clark purchased the property. He separated the two houses and moved them around the corner onto Elm Street, where they were situated on adjacent lots on the south side of the street. The Moore house was heavily modified during this time, including the removal of the original central chimney and the addition of a large front porch, along with significant interior alterations.

After the 1897 move, the house was still facing east, with the front facade perpendicular to Elm Street. However, in 1938 the house underwent another renovation, which included the removal of the front porch and the 1890s chimneys. As part of this renovation, the house was also rotated on the lot, so that the front faced north toward Elm Street. The first photo was taken shortly after this work was done, and at this point almost nothing was left of the original house besides the frame. Remarkably, though, three of the seemingly-delicate pendants beneath the front overhang are original to the house. Only the one on the far right is a modern replica, with the original having been removed when that side of the house was joined with the Loomis House. Additionally, two ornamental brackets under the left gable are also original, although they are not visible from this angle.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, very little has changed in this scene. The Loomis house still stands on the adjacent lot, where it is partially visible on the left side of both photos, and the Moore house, now over 350 years old, stands as one of the oldest surviving houses in New England. Because of this, and despite the significant changes over the years, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Amaziah Humphrey House, Simsbury, Connecticut

The house at 42 East Weatogue Street in Simsbury, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This house is located in the Simsbury village of East Weatogue, a small farming community on the eastern edge of the town, situated right at the base of the Metacomet Ridge. Compared to some of the other colonial houses in the village, this house was fairly modest, and was built around 1775 for Amaziah Humphrey, who was only about 21 years old at the time. A year earlier, he had married his wife, Elizabeth Harris, and they moved into this house following its completion. However, only a year later Amaziah enlisted in the Continental Army, serving as a private in New York during the American Revolution.

From there, the historical records of Amaziah and this property seem a bit spotty. His name does appear in the Hartford Courant several times, though. In 1805, an “Amaz. Humphrey” was listed as one of Simsbury’s two representatives in the state legislature for that year, and several years earlier a 1797 classified ad listed him as a trustee for a school here in Simsbury. This advertisement reads: “The ſubſcribers reſpectfully inform the public that the ſchool is now open in the ſchoolhouſe lately erected in the firſt ſociety in this town. Scholars may be admitted into ſaid ſchool for inſtruction in the learned languages, at 18ſ per quarter; for Geography, Engliſh Grammar or Arithmetic at 14ſ; and for writing and reading at 12ſ; Alſo convenient boarding upon reaſonable terms.”

Amaziah and Elizabeth had at least seven children, and they appear to have lived here in this house for the rest of their lives, until their deaths in 1822 and 1838, respectively. On his gravestone, located across the river in Simsbury Cemetery, he is identified as “Capt Amaziah Humphrey.” He does not appear to have held this rank during the American Revolution, so it was probably a rank that he earned in the militia at some point after the war.

This house was later inherited by Elijah Case, who was the son of Amaziah and Elizabeth’s daughter Caroline and her husband, Philander Case. Born in 1812, he became a shoemaker, and married his wife Paulina in 1849. The 1860 census shows them living here in this house with their two children, Henry and Flora, and at the time his real estate was valued at $1,200, plus an additional $1,000 for his personal estate. Two decades later, in the 1880 census, he was listed as a farmer rather than a shoemaker, and he died five years later, at the age of 71.

In the absence of standardized street numbers in historical records, it is difficult to trace the exact ownership of this house. However, it appears to have remained in the Case family until at least the late 20th century. When the first photo was taken around the late 1930s as part of the WPA Architectural Survey, the owner was listed as the “L. Case Estate,” and as late as the 1990s the property was still owned by the Case family, who operated Case’s Flowers here.

Today, the greenhouses, sheds, and other outbuildings that had been part of Case’s Flowers are now gone, but the house itself has hardly changed since the first photo was taken around 80 years ago. Along with the rest of the surrounding area, the house is now part of the East Weatogue Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

David Phelps House, Simsbury, Connecticut

The house at 2 East Weatogue Street, at the corner of Hartford Road in Simsbury, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

This elegant Federal-style home was built around 1800, and in the early 19th century it served as a tavern along the stagecoach route to Hartford. Located in the village of East Weatogue in Simsbury, it is in the narrow area of land between the Farmington River to the west and the Metacomet Ridge to the east, at the foot of one of the few passes through the long, narrow mountain ridge. It was an ideal spot for a tavern, because nearly all traffic between Hartford and Simsbury would have passed by the front door. Originally owned by David Phelps, the tavern is not to be confused with another Phelps Tavern, which was located in the center of town and was operated by Noah Phelps around the same time as this one.

The architecture of the house reflects the Federal style of the era, with distinct features such as a symmetrical front facade, a Palladian window on the second floor, and a front door flanked with sidelights and a fanlight above it. The main section of the house has two chimneys, and when the first photo was taken the house had a total of 11 fireplaces. The wraparound porch, which extends the length of the front and the right side of the house in the first photo, was not original to the house, and was added around the turn of the 20th century.

About 80 years after the first photo was taken, the house has seen some significant changes, most notably the removal of the large porch. Today, it looks much more historically accurate than it did in the early 20th century, and it still stands at an important intersection along the main route from Simsbury to Hartford. Despite its proximity to the state capital, though, the village of East Weatogue has retained much of its original agrarian appearance, and this house now forms part of the East Weatogue Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.