Relic: The Cunningham House
According to historian Steve Lehman, Windsor is one of the oldest communities in Sonoma County. Although Windsor wasn’t incorporated until 1992, its earliest non-native residents began settling here in the late 1840’s. One of the first homes built was what is now known as the Cunningham House. Situated on Foxwood Drive behind Hembree House, the Cunningham house is the oldest wood-frame house in Windsor. Lehman describes it as “remarkable.” It’s made entirely out of redwood with hand-hewn beams and no nails. “It’s well over 150 years old and it’s in pretty good shape.”
But the structure itself isn’t what Lehman finds most interesting; it’s the story of the Cunningham family itself that seems to tell the story of Windsor. The Cunninghams first moved to Windsor around 1849, with Robert making the long trek first, followed by his wife and daughter a few years later. Lehman hopes that visitors to the home will imagine what Robert felt when he first surveyed the land surrounding the family home. The house is built among redwoods, oaks and other trees, next to a creek that Lehman describes as “probably loaded with fish at the time.”
Once the family was established, the Cunninghams went on to build a community in Windsor. They donated land for a church and helped start the first school. The Cunninghams also remained in Windsor, marrying McClellands and Hembrees, becoming a family of people who shaped the town we have today. “They had staying power,” remarks Lehman. “They recognized and understood the importance of community. That is the story of Windsor—hardworking people.”
The Windsor Historical Society is accepting donations to help restore Cunningham House. To learn more, call 838-6152 or visit Hembree House at 9225 Foxwood Dr.