Windsor is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States, and was the first English settlement in the state. It lies on the northern border of Connecticut’s capital, Hartford. The population of Windsor was 29,044 at the 2010 census.
Poquonock is a northern area of Windsor that has its own zip code (06064) for post-office box purposes. Other unincorporated areas in Windsor include Rainbow and Hayden Station in the north, and Wilson and Deerfield in the south.
The Day Hill Road area is known as Windsor’s Corporate Area, although other centers of business include New England Tradeport, Kennedy Industry Park and Kennedy Business Park, all near Bradley International Airport and the Addison Road Industrial Park.
The coastal areas and riverways were traditional areas of settlement by various American Indian cultures, who had been in the region for thousands of years. They relied on the rivers for fishing, water and transportation. Before European contact, the historic Pequot and Mohegan tribes had been one Algonquian-speaking people. After they separated, they became competitors and traditional enemies in the Connecticut region.
During the first part of the 17th century, the Pequot and Mohegan nations had been at war. The Podunk were forced to pay tribute to the more powerful Pequot, who claimed their land. Eventually, the Podunk invited a small party of settlers from Plymouth, Massachusetts, to settle as a mediating force between the other tribes. In exchange they granted them a plot of land at the confluence of the Farmington River and the west side of the Connecticut River. After Edward Winslow came from Plymouth to inspect the land, William Holmes led a small party, arriving at the site on September 26, 1633, where they founded a trading post. The spot of the trading post is at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers. The Loomis Chaffee School currently owns the land as the spot is now the school’s sports fields.
Native Americans referred to the area as Matianuck. It was about 50 miles (80 km) up river from Long Island Sound, at the end of waters navigable by ship and above the Dutch fort at Hartford, offering an advantageous location for the English to trade with the Indians before they reached the Dutch. (The Sicaog tribe had made a similar offer to mediate to the Dutch in New Amsterdam. New Netherland had far fewer European settlers than New England, and they were not in a position to take up the opportunity.)
In 1635, a party of around 30 people, sponsored by Sir Richard Saltonstall, and led by the Stiles brothers, Francis, John and Henry, settled in the Windsor area. Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Company acknowledged in a letter to Saltonstall that the Stiles party was the second group to settle Connecticut.
The first group of 60 or more people were led by Roger Ludlow, primary framer of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, having trekked overland from Dorchester, Massachusetts. They had arrived in the New World five years earlier on the ship Mary and John from Plymouth, England, and settled in Dorchester. Reverend Warham promptly renamed the Connecticut settlement “Dorchester”. During the next few years, more settlers arrived from Dorchester, outnumbering and soon displacing the original Plymouth contingent, who returned to Plymouth in 1638 after selling their parcel to a Matthew Allyn of Hartford.
On February 21, 1637, the colony’s General Court changed the name of the settlement from Dorchester to Windsor, named after the town of Windsor, Berkshire, on the River Thames in England. The same day, Windsor was incorporated as a town along with Hartford and Wethersfield.
Several “daughter towns” were formed from Windsor’s original boundaries. These include portions or all of Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Bolton, Colebrook, Coventry, East Granby, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Granby, Harwinton, Litchfield, Manchester, Morris, Simsbury, South Windsor, Suffield, Tolland, Torrington, Vernon, and Windsor Locks.
The first “highway” in the Connecticut Colony opened in 1638 between Windsor and Hartford. Two years later, the highway was extended north to the colony’s 1636 settlement at Springfield, with the road also connecting to Wethersfield and thus the four settlements that came to dominate the region for much of colonial history were connected.
In the summer of 1640, an event took place that would forever change the boundaries of the Connecticut River Valley. During a grain famine, the founder of Springfield, William Pynchon, was given authority by Windsor and Hartford to negotiate a price for grain for the three settlements with the natives. First, the natives refused to sell grain at the usual market price, and then refused to sell it at “a reasonable price”. Pynchon refused to buy it, attempting to teach the natives a peaceful lesson about integrity and reliability. Windsor’s cattle were starving, however, and the citizens of Hartford were furious. With Windsor’s consent, Hartford commissioned the famous Indian fighter John Mason to travel to Springfield with “money in one hand and a sword in the other” to threaten the natives, and thereby force the grain trade. The natives capitulated and ultimately sold their grain. After “negotiating the trade”, Mason refused to share the grain with Springfield, and, to add further insult, insisted that Springfield pay a tax when sailing ships passed Windsor. Outraged, Springfield forever sided with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a faraway theocracy based in Boston, rather than with the Connecticut Colony, which was much closer geographically and far more compatible ideologically. Windsor played a neutral role in the colonial rivalry between Hartford and Springfield; however, Windsor’s direct border with both settlements caused many discussions about whether to align with Massachusetts or Connecticut. Ultimately, Windsor sided with Connecticut.
The Hartford & Springfield Street Railway, a trolley, connected with the Connecticut Company in Windsor Center until 1925. Buses replaced trolleys between Rainbow (a northern section of Windsor) and Windsor Center in 1930. Trolley cars continued to run from Windsor to Hartford until 1940.
The original Windsor settlers have many descendants around the country and beyond. Many are members of the Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor (DFAW).
The railroad used to stop at Windsor station in Windsor Center with other stations being at Wilson in the south of town and Hayden in the north, both named for landowners who provided land for the railroad right of way. The line was double tracked until the late 1990s and redouble tracked in 2018. Sidings at Windsor station allowed cars to be spotted at the freight house and on the Loomis trestle just to the south. The trestle was removed in the late 1980s. An 1856 brownstone arch bridge carries the tracks over Pleasant St and the Farmington River. Incorporating a horizontal curve, its engineering was noteworthy when built. Following a fatal grade crossing accident, a three-track-wide plate girder bridge was installed to carry tracks over Palisado Avenue n Windsor Center.
The public schools in Windsor are a part of the Windsor Public Schools:
The magnet schools in Windsor are managed by the Capital Region Education Council:
There are two public libraries: Windsor Public Library and Wilson Public Library.
Loomis Chaffee, the well-known college preparatory school, is located in Windsor, on a 320-acre (130 ha) campus at the confluence of the Connecticut and Farmington rivers. The original Loomis Homestead, built by Joseph Loomis in 1640 and one of the oldest buildings in the United States, stands on the school’s campus across the street from the current school head’s residence.
Madina Academy, Connecticut’s first full-time Islamic School, offers preschool through 12th grade
Saint Gabriel’s School is a private school that teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. Trinity Christian School is a private school that teaches kindergarten through seventh grade. Praise, Power, Prayer Christian School is a private school that teaches kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Branford Hall Career Institute and Baran Institute of Technology are located on Day Hill Road.
As of the census of 2010, there were 29,044 people, 11,233 households, and 7,881 families residing in the town. The population density was 984.5 persons per square mile (380.2/km2). There were 11,767 housing units at an average density of 398.9 per square mile (154.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 54.7% White, 34.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 4.5% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 3.1% some other race, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.4% of the population.
There were 11,233 households, out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were headed by married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.8% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.8% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.5% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 31.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, for the period 2009–2011, median income for a household in the town was $78,211, and median income for a family was $89,726. Male full-time year-round workers had a median income of $58,668 versus $50,529 for females. The per capita income for the town was $34,899. About 3.1% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.0% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
Windsor was one of a handful of towns in the country where, in the 2000 United States Census, median income for black households ($64,159) was larger than white households ($63,624). Asian households had a median income of $75,716. Hispanic or Latino (of any race) households have a median income of $69,808.
High school demographics
Windsor High School has 1,471 students enrolled. Demographics for 2004–2005 were: