Located along the canal on South Main Street in Windsor Locks, is the former factory complex of C. H. Dexter & Sons, paper manufacturers. A brief history of the company appeared in The American Stationer of July 25, 1914 (Vol. LXXVI, No. 4) as follows:
The Dexter paper mill is one of the oldest landmarks of Windsor Locks, the business dating back nearly eighty years. From a grist mill, built by ancestors of the present owners over one hundred years ago, there developed the manufacture of paper that has grown to large proportions. The old mill was operated by Seth Dexter, 1st, and later by his son of the same name. When the latter died, his son, Charles H. Dexter, took possession of the mill, and in 1835 Mr. Dexter began making paper out of manila rope in the basement of the old grist mill. In 1840 a mill for the exclusive purpose of manufacturing paper was erected on the opposite side of the canal. The nucleus of the present plant was built in 1876, after the original mill had been destroyed by fire.
Charles H. Dexter died in 1869 and was succeeded by Edwin D. Dexter and Herbert R. Coffin. In 1886 Mr. Dexter died and the business passed into the hands of Mr. Coffin, who continued it under the old name. He increased the size of the plant and began the making of high-grade specialties and tissues. On the death of Mr. Coffin in 1901, his sons, Arthur D. and Herbert R., continued the business, maintaining the plant under the old name, C. H. Dexter & Sons.
The Dexter Corporation (as the company was known after 1966) was dismantled in 2000. The company’s nonwovens production facilities in Windsor Locks were sold to the Finish company, Ahlstrom Paper Group. Read the rest of this entry »
As detailed in the Nineteenth Annual Report of the State of Connecticut’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (1903):
The firm of J. R. Montgomery & Co. [in Windsor Locks] was established in 1871, for the purpose of manufacturing cotton warps used in satinets and union cassimeres. The firm was composed of J. R. Montgomery as the active partner, with two others who constituted the partnership. A few years after the outside interests were bought by J. R. Montgomery, who continued the business under the old firm name, until in 1885. George M. Montgomery was admitted into the business as an active partner, and the line of manufacture was enlarged, taking up the making of novelty yarns, which was a new and unique line of manufacture. [...]
In 1891, the firm of J. R. Montgomery & Co. was merged into a corporation under the name of The J. R. Montgomery Co., of which J. R. Montgomery, President, and George M. Montgomery, Vice-President and Secretary, are the active managers. A new cotton warp mill and an addition to the Novelty Mill was built. The capital of $350,000 was invested in enlarging and increasing the scope of its business.
The first Warp Mill was expanded in 1904-1905, as described in Fibre and Fabric: A Record of Progress in American Textile Industries, Vol. XLL, No. 1054, May 13, 1905:
The machinery of the new factory of the J. R Montgomery Company is gradually being put into operation as fast as the various processes involved will allow. The completion of this building, states the Windsor Locks Journal, marks a new epoch in the prosperity of the town. Standing on the canal bank with its five stories beside the basement, and its frontage of 173 feet, it presents a handsome and imposing appearance. Its width is 63 feet, and it is so built as to connect with and open into the former five story building on the north, making a frontage of 248 feet. The designer is Fred. S. Hines of Boston and the contractors C. H. Hathaway & Co., of Providence, R. I. The work was begun early last Spring and has continued without interruption or accident. In its construction and equipment it embodies all the latest improvements in every feature, as regards fire proofing, heating, lighting, the distribution of power, etc.
All the power and lighting in the new mill is supplied by electricity, and the electrical plant is one of the most complete in this section of the country. The cotton machinery is all new and of modern construction for the manufacture of high grade yarns and warps. A combing plant has been installed for making a higher grade of work than heretofore attempted in that line. It is the intention of the company to continue along the same lines as in the past, but to improve the quality of the output, and to add to its reputation for high grade goods.
In the 1890s, the company began producing tinsel products, eventually becoming the country’s largest manufacturer of decorative and electric tinsels. In 1920, the Montgomery Company purchased the adjacent Anchor Mills Paper Company building, razing it and building a new white reinforced concrete building, which extended southwards from the 1891/1905 structure. The Montgomery Company ended its operations in Windsor Locks in 1989 and the factory buildings have since remained vacant, suffering fires in 2006, 2009 and again earlier this year. Since 2009, the Town of Windsor Locks has been attempting to foreclose on the now burned-out buildings.
The Windsor Locks Preservation Association was formed in 2004 with a main focus of preserving the old Windsor Locks Train Station, which is currently vacant and in a deteriorating condition, having survived arson in 2000. Built in 1875, the station was originally painted cream-yellow, but a thorough cleaning in the 1940s has since left the building‘s red brick exposed. The station was closed in 1971 and saved from demolition by the The Save The Station Committee, which successfully applied to have the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Memorial Hall in Windsor Locks was dedicated in 1890 in honor of the town’s Civil War veterans. Funds for the building‘s construction were provided by Charles E. Chaffee, a textile manufacturer. Soldiers Memorial Hall originally housed the J.H. Converse Post, No. 67, Grand Army of the Republic. The Post, formed in 1884, was named for Major Joseph H. Converse, who was killed in action at the Battle of Cold Harbor, on June 4, 1864. Memorial Hall was designed by Frederick S. Newman in the Richardsonian Romanesque style (Newman also designed the Linden apartments in Hartford and the Chicopee Bank in Springfield) The museum inside the Hall now honors Windsor Locks veterans of all wars and the building hosts the town’s American Legion post. Memorial Hall is open to visitors by guided tour. Read the rest of this entry »