South Windsor to celebrate its heritage

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Sep. 8, 2011
The Union District School was built in 1905 and is currently being restored by the South Windsor Historical Society. Photos by Martha Marteney.
The Union District School was built in 1905 and is currently being restored by the South Windsor Historical Society. Photos by Martha Marteney.

The South Windsor Historical Society is gearing up for its annual Heritage Day, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free event will be held behind the Old Post Office, 1865 Main St., in South Windsor.

According to Historical Society President Brian Rivard, Heritage Day draws about  2,000 people to the historic section of town, which was originally known as “Windsor Farm.” In addition to live musical entertainment all day, there will be free pony rides and hayrides, as well as games and other children’s activities organized by the Girl Scouts and the Jaycees. “Every child who attends will receive a coupon for a soft serve cone at Dzen's Market in Ellington,” noted Rivard.

Throughout the day, artisans will demonstrate colonial crafts, such as blacksmithing, and vendors will have items for sale. Revolutionary War reenactors will set up an encampment and conduct musters throughout the day. The Historical Society will also have a variety of antique farming equipment on display, along with Fire Engine No. 1 and assorted antique vehicles. There will also be a one-third replica of the Bissell Ferry. The original Bissell Ferry operated across the Connecticut River by using a cable angled in such a way that the force of the river water drove the ferry in both directions.

As part of its fundraising efforts, the Historical Society will have food for sale and will host a tea cup auction with a variety of items, including a family pass to the Foster Farm Corn Maze. The event is supported by grants from Rockville Bank, First Niagara Bank, SBM Foundation and the Rotary Club.

Proceeds from Heritage Day are used to support the Historical Society’s operational budget for general programming. Although the event is free to the public, donations will be gladly accepted. For more information about the South Windsor Historical Society, visit the website

The Historical Society also has a separate fund for the renovation of the Union District School. Kasheta Farms donated pumpkins and corn stalks, which the Historical Society will be selling during Heritage Day, with all proceeds going toward the school renovations.

The Union District School was built in 1905 and brought together students from three schools along Main Street. The building was taken over by the Historical Society five years ago, after having been left vacant for several years prior. It is hoped that an exhibit area will be set up in the basement, plus an area for archives. The classrooms could be used for meeting spaces, and the meeting room on the second floor could be rented out for a variety of events.

“It’s a $5 million project,” noted Rivard. The Historical Society has cleaned out general refuse from the building and has had the asbestos removed, the roof work completed and the chimneys capped. Necessary upgrades include the installation of an elevator and a new stairway to meet fire codes. Local architect David Gosling is assisting with the planning.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work with very little dollars because of volunteers,” said Rivard. Upcoming workdays are scheduled for Oct. 29 and Nov. 19. The volunteers will be removing the bathrooms on the second floor and reestablishing the open hallway.

The South Windsor Historical Society also hosts the farmers’ market, held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind the Union District School. “The market seems to be a huge hit with the people of South Windsor,” said Rivard. All proceeds from the market will be used for the school renovations. “The Farmers’ Market has gotten a number of people participating in volunteer efforts,” said Rivard. The Historical Society has approximately 200 members, of which 50 are now volunteering at the market, at the Wapping Fair and at Heritage Day. For more information about the South Windsor Historical Society, upcoming events or volunteering, contact Brian Rivard by email at or by calling 860-644-8378.

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