Way Back When … 2006
A Greenfield Hill landmark, the Bronson Windmill was restored for a second time in 2006. The windmill was built in 1893 for Frederic Bronson, based on a design patented in 1888 by A.J. Corcoran, of New York. Bronson lived at “Verna,” his estate on Bronson Road, and the windmill provided water to the main house and the greenhouses, which were across the street from the windmill on property that is now part of the Fairfield Country Day School.
Made of hemlock, the windmill stands 105 feet high to the top of the wheel. It was designed to pump water from a well 75 feet below ground level using a screw device powered by teams of horses. Wind power pumped water into the 7,500-gallon wooden storage tank 70 feet up inside the windmill. When full, the tank weighed over 31 tons.
The windmill was in use until the 1930s, and by the mid-1970s had fallen into disrepair. The Bronson estate gave the windmill to the town of Fairfield in 1971. A group of Fairfield residents started a drive to restore the landmark. Through local contributions and help from the town, the windmill restoration was completed in May 1980.
However, the windmill was damaged in a storm in 1996 and in 1999, management and restoration of the structure was entrusted to the Fairfield Historical Society. It took a little over six years to complete the project. The windmill’s bell crown was re-clad with faux wooden material made to look like the original shingles and the project was finished in June 2006. The Bronson Windmill is part of the Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org. The museum relies on funding from individuals, corporations and foundations. The museum is especially grateful for leadership support from the state of Connecticut, town of Fairfield and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
The year the Bronson Windmill was built.