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Broad Street Green

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The Broad Street Green got its start in the mid-17th century. Initially Windsorites who had settled on the south side of the Farmington River built their houses along Rowland Lane, east of the present railroad tracks or on the Island, as it was called which is the present Loomis School campus. A major flood in 1638-39 "drowned" the houses along Rowland Lane. In the years following the flood, home owners built their new houses at the rear of their lots.

At about the same time the upland road to Hartford was constructed (present Broad Street) and the settlers re-oriented their dwellings westward towards this new road, and away from the lower meadow. Much of the land on the west side of Broad Street remained undeveloped at this time and was known as Bowfields.

There were few changes to the Broad Street Green for much of the 18th century. A meetinghouse was built here in 1755 after a split in the First Ecclesiastical Society. The two parishes reunited in 1794, and agreed to build a bridge across the Farmington River to facilitate crossings. This bridge, erected about 1792, further strengthened the Broad Street route as the new bridge was linked directly to the north side of the green. By the end of the 18th century, the green had become a residential setting, much like the Palisado Green is today.

The first half of the 19th century saw very few changes to the Green. Colonel James Loomis ran a store next to his house on the west side of the green (c. 1835) and Elijah Alford ran a tavern at the junction of Central Street and Broad Street. The Methodist Episcopal Church built a church across the street from Alford's tavern, at the northwest corner of Central and Broad Streets in 1828.

In the mid-19th century a simple development in transportation made a significant impact on the center of the town. A railroad stop was created at Windsor Center, just east of the green about 1865. This spurred large-scale residential and commercial development in Windsor Center, especially in the open land west of the green. People from Hartford moved to Windsor in the 1870s and 1880s and used the railroad to commute to work. A hotel and commercial block were built on the site of Colonel Loomis' store. Elijah Alford put a large wing on the back of his tavern (c. 1873) and the 18th century dwellings that once lined the east side were torn down or moved and replaced with large Victorian residences of Windsor's upper-middle class. The Grace Episcopal Church was built here in 1865.

The recent past of the area surrounding the Broad Street Green has seen a shift away from residential uses and a broadening of commercial and municipal functions. The large Victorian houses on the east side were destroyed to make way for the post office and town hall. The library has made a major expansion at the south end, and most noticeably, the commercial uses have expanded. With the introduction of the Plaza building about 1930, the Broad Street Green has become increasingly the center of a small commercial district, complete with shops, banks, and restaurants.

(The history of the Broad Street Green was taken from the Historic Resources Inventory, Item #421, prepared by Preston Maynard in 1981.)

The Broad Street Green dates from the early development of Windsor. It is the focal point of the buildings around it that, together, convey the character of the 19th century development of this area as the commercial and civic center of Windsor. That historic character has been challenged lately with the construction of the New Town Hall and rebuilding of walkways and new lighting on the green.

 

 
 

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