"Celebrate Historic Windsor": Residents recall town's past with stories, photo exhibit and local landmarks


Photo Gallery | Friends of Windsor host event to celebrate town history

WINDSOR — Tucked away on Old Route 9 near the Cummington border, the historic East Windsor Chapel Sunday afternoon was filled with townspeople swapping stories of the hilltown's past.

Along the walls of the century-old quaint church were 20 reproductions of photographs, a visual reminder of a simpler, but not always easy, long-ago way of life.

"What a hard place Windsor had once been .. and what an energetic place; there was once nine schools in town," said Susan Phillips, who put together the exhibit.

What hasn't changed in nearly 250 years is the bond of a community where everyone still knows your name, a big reason 30-something native Benny Kohn returned six years ago.

"I love the hill towns, I love the people, it's a nice tight-knit community," the local musician told an Eagle reporter.

"if something happens to you, the people here are there for you," added Heather Zanolli.

The Friends of Windsor organized the feel-good gathering of about 60 people as part of its "Celebrate Historic Windsor." The look back at the town settled in 1767 and incorporated July 4, 1771 included the officially unveiling of the nonprofit's brochure that unfolds into a decorative map of 24 landmarks throughout the municipality. The sites are found at Notchview, Hemlock Hill, Windsor Bush, Windsor Hill and North Woods sections of town.

"There are 24 signs marking the historical sites — many long forgotten," said Friends of Windsor president, Patty Crane.

Funded through several private local foundations and the Windsor Cultural Council, The Windsor Landmarks Project launched in in 2014 also includes "Flashbacks," a years-worth of inserts in the group's monthly newsletter about the people places and events that shaped the community.

As co-editor of Windsor Then & Now, Phillips has researched and authored the newsletter's special historical section that at times have been eye-opening.

"I get to go down these rabbit holes and find some weird stuff," she said.

Nothing stranger than the outlandish mythical account of several murders at Camp Windigo, according to Phillips. Founded in the 1940s by two Smith College physical education professors and lasting for 30 years, the summer camp buildings were only recently torn, leaving behind an eerie tale as unfounded as The Blair Witch Project.

"Camp Windigo had this supernatural reputation," she said.

Some of the more believable yarns spun at Sunday's event were jotted down anonymously and dropped in a shoebox; residents recalling their most notable experience living in Windsor.

"A moose walked up behind me as I was tending my garden," one person wrote.

Another remembered an unhappy part of a childhood.

"Going to school each day and the teacher taking me out to the hallway and make me cry ... because I didn't do my lessons."

Since its inception in 1984, Friends of Windsor has sponsored dinners, homecoming weekends, star gazing and musical performances, and contributed to the Windsor Historical Commission's restoration of East Windsor Chapel, according to the groups website.

Friends also annually puts out one of the most coveted publications in town; Windsor Phone & Community Directory.

"Every household fights over them," Crane said.

The 22nd edition has nearly every residence and business listened that includes email address, websites as well as phone numbers and physical location. The most ambitious directory to date was funded through first-time sponsors, 23 area businesses in all.

"We put more into it than ever before at one-third the cost," Crane said.

The cover is usually reserved for the drawings/paintings of local students or adult artists, but this year the tile mosaic of the shuttered Berkshire Trail Elementary School adorns the front. Crane said friends of Windsor wanted to pay tribute to the Cummington school that closed last year that had served some Windsor children.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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