A mill was first constructed at the site of the future Hockanum Mill on the Hockanum River in Rockville in Vernon in 1814 by Bingham & Nash. The mill produced satinet, a finely woven fabric that resembles satin but is made from wool. New owners acquired the mill in 1821 and soon expanded it by constructing a mirror image of the earlier building. These became known as the Twin Mills. The Hockanum Company was formed in 1836. They built new and larger mill was built on the site in 1849. After it burned down in 1854, it was rebuilt the following year to the same design. A wood-frame Greek Revival structure on a brick basement, it is the only wood-framed mill building surviving in Rockville. In 1881, the Hockanum Company built a three and a half story brick Romanesque Revival building, adjacent to the original wooden structure.
After George Maxwell became president of the company in 1869, he converted the mill’s production over to a higer-quality worsted cloth for menswear. By the turn-of-the-century the company was booming under the presidency of George Sykes. It produced the cloth for the inaugural suit worn by President William H. McKinley in 1897. The Hockanum Mill consolidated with three other Rockville mills in 1906 forming the Hockanum Mills Company, which was sold to M.T. Stevens in 1934. The Rockville mills were shut down in 1951. The Hockanum Mill recently received funds from the state to assist in the cleanup and reuse of the building for commercial and light industrial purposes. The site is also planned to be the home of the proposed New England Motorcycle Museum.
The first Episcopal church service in Rockville in Vernon was held on the afternoon of Sunday, May 7, 1855 at the Rockville Hotel Hall. Services were conducted in various places in town over the years, including in the upstairs hall of the Sears block on Market Street, later in the Town Hall and finally in the First Evangelical Church on West Main Street. Finally a parish was organized in 1872-1873 and a church was built at the corner of Talcott and Ellington Avenues in Rockville in 1874. The building continued as St. John’s Episcopal Church until 1968, when the parish completed a new church on Hartford Turnpike. Their former church, at 9 Ellington Avenue, is today the Church of the Risen Savior.
In a 1821 a two-story wood framed mill building was constructed on the future site of the Springville Mill, 155 West Main Street in Rockville, Vernon. As related in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903):
A mill-wheel was at once erected, and from the beginning the plant was devoted to the manufacture of satinets. In 1826 it had become the property of Augustus Grant and Warren McKinney, the former (Grant) having a two-thirds, the latter, a one-third interest, the firm style being Grant & McKinney. On Aug. 21, 1826, Warren McKinney bought one-third of his partner’s interest, and on Aug. 3, 1827, the remainder of that interest, becoming sole proprietor. On March 20, 1832. he sold the property to David McKinney and Rufus S. Abbev. On July 4th, following, they sold to Alonzo Bailey, Chauncey Winchell, Christopher Burdick and Isaac L. Sanford.
These partners organized the Springville Manufacturing Company in 1833. Chauncey Winchell served as president of the company for 52 years. In 1886 the company was purchased by George Maxwell and George Sykes, who replaced the old wooden mill with a four-story brick building devoted to the manufacture of fine worsted wool. The new mill, which had large windows, gas and electric lighting and automatic sprinklers, was considered to be a model manufacturing building for its time. The Springville Manufacturing Company later merged with three other mills to form the Hockanum Company Mills Company, which constructed an addition to the Springville Mill offices in 1909. As related in “Centennial of Vernon,” by Harry Conklin Smith, which appeared in The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. XII, No. 2, (1908):
To show the great reputation of the goods produced in the factories of the Hockanum Mills Company, it may be said that they have made suits to be worn at the inauguration by three different presidents of the United States The Springville Company, having made the suit worn by President Harrison, the Hockanum, President McKinley’s, and the Springville Company, President Roosevelt’s.
In 1934, the Hockanum Mills Company’s holdings were sold to M.T. Stevens and Sons of North Andover, Massachusetts. The Springville Mill ceased its manufacturing operations in 1951 and the building has since been converted into apartments.
In 1856, the brothers Horace Welles Talcott and Charles D. Talcott bought the Warburton Mill in Vernon from the estate of Nathaniel Kellogg. They then began to build up the industrial village of Talcottville. Across from the mill, the brothers constructed twin Italianate mansions for themselves at 36 and 48 Main Street. The Horace W. Talcott House (48 Main Street) retains its original appearance, but the Charles D. Talcott House (36 Main Street) was altered in 1920 with elements of the Spanish Eclectic style.
The Florence Mill stands on the site of an earlier mill at 121 West Main Street in Vernon’s industrial village of Rockville. The original mill was built in 1831 by Colonel Francis McLean, in partnership with Alonzo Bailey. Framing from the old Vernon meeting house was used in its construction. Called the Frank Mill, it produced cassimere (cashmere). It was replaced by a new mill building in 1847, but this burned down in 1853 and the company collapsed. Nathaniel O. Kellogg purchased the factory’s remains and started a new company. He built the Florence Mill in 1864, Rockville‘s first example of slow-burn construction: brick masonry exterior walls with wood timber frames. The mill closed in 1869 and continued as a woolen mill under other owners until White, Corbin & Company converted it for the manufacture of envelopes in 1881. In that year, it was described as the largest brick building in Rockville. The company later consolidated with others to form the U.S. Envelope Company in 1898. The factory closed in the 1970s and was converted to become senior housing.
The Turnverein was a German gymnastic/athletics movement. German immigrants to America founded Turnvereine in many communities, including the Rockville Turnverein, which was established in 1857. Members of the club (called Turners) built a Turn Halle on Village Street (a street that had strong associations with the German community) in Rockville in 1897. The building, which has been much altered, was later used by the Polish American Citizens Club.