It is thought that John Howe (1774-1852) built the house in the 1820s. It stands on part of a town allotment made in 1811 to Howe, who arrived as a free settler aboard tthe Coromandel in 1802, and became a man of some prominence in early Windsor. For almost seven years after his arrival, Howe farmed at Portland Head (Ebenezer), before moving to Windsor to manage the lucrative trade and farming concerns of the district’s most successful citizen, ex-convict Andrew Thompson.
After Thompson’s untimely death, Howe gradually acquired much of his business, obtaining his auctioneer’s licence, appointment as Government Appraiser and later the positions of Chief Constable (1814-1821) and Coroner (1822-1836).
He expanded into civil contracting and with James McGrath, was engaged in a number of building projects. These included the enlargement of the wharf at Windsor in 1814, providing a ferry service over the Hawkesbury River, road improvements and a new bridge over South Creek. During 1819 and 1820 Howe led an expedition that successfully found a route to the Hunter Valley, forging what is now the Bulga or Comleroy Road and Putty Road. This resulted in opening up the Hunter region to settlement, and around 1838-1839 the Howe family moved to their property in the Hunter Valley.
Howe House served a number of uses including an inn; the Daniel O’Connell Inn was operated by Edward Coffey (1840s) and patronised by Governors Gipps and Fitzroy. In 1876 the building was sold to George Louis Asher Davies, a printer, who published The Australian: Windsor, Richmond, and Hawkesbury Advertiser newspaper from 1871 to 1889. Later again the house reverted from a newspaper office to a private residence.
In partnership with Windsor Municipal Council the building became the Hawkesbury Historical Museum and Information Centre, managed by the Hawkesbury Historical Society. In the first few years of operation the house was still privately owned with the owners residing downstairs and the Museum located on the upper floor. The House was acquired by Hawkesbury City Council in 1967, with the Hawkesbury Historical Society continuing to run the Museum and Information Centre until 2007.
A purpose built museum building was opened in May 2008 on the adjacent site in Baker Street. Howe House then became part of the new Hawkesbury Regional Museum precinct, managed by Hawkesbury City Council. After some conservation work, Howe House reopened to the public in November 2012. It is now open on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm and at other times by appointment.
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