The Windham Textile and History Museum (411 Main Street in Willimantic) presents the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of Willimantic’s textile industry, focusing on the Willimantic Linen Company, whose former mill buildings are located just across the street. These mills were later owned by the American Thread Company. In 1985 they were acquired by developer Jonathan Dugan. The museum opened in 1989 in two buildings erected by the company in 1877 and donated by Dugan in 1986. One is the former company store (pictured above), which had a library for workers on the third floor called Dunham Hall. The other (pictured below) is called the Dugan Mill, the upper floor of which was added during the first decade of the twentieth century to be used as the headquarters for the American Thread Fire Brigade. It later became a meeting hall which was recently restored for use by the museum.
The house at 76 Tolland Green in Tolland, built in 1883, rests on eleven hand-cut granite blocks. Built for Ransel Agard (1815-1889), it was home to five generations of the Agard family. Ransel taught school for a number of years and then, according to the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903),
In 1844, in partnership with a party by the name of Woodruff, Mr. Agard opened up a grocery business on Asylum street, in Hartford. Several years later the firm name was changed to Sumner & Agard, his brother-in-law, William Sumner, having become his partner. The business prospered and a few years after, Mr. Agard became the sole proprietor. Then he rented his business property in Hartford and bought a store in Vernon, Conn.; in 1866 he removed a stock of goods from Hartford, and until 1871 conducted the largest general store in Vernon. At that time he sold the business and settled in Tolland, retiring from activity and spending his last days in comfort and enjoyment in his pleasant home, dying here on Jan. 27, 1889. Mr. Agard was a stanch Republican, having borne testimony all his life in favor of the abolition of slavery. No inducement could be offered to cause him to accept political office, although he supported the standard bearers of his party with characteristic vigor.
In 1889 he was elected to the position of manager of the Underwood Manufacturing Co., of Tolland, Conn., the business being the manufacture of belts and belting. This company is now known to the commercial and industrial world as the William Sumner Belting Co., of which Mr. Agard has been the president since its formation, in 1898.
On Sept. 15, 1874., Mr. Agard was married to Miss Catherine Bissell, a daughter of Sanford Bissell, of South Windsor. [. . . .] Mr. Agard is one of the leading men of Tolland, and is President of the Savings Bank of Tolland, being elected to that position in 1902, and he is financially interested in many lines. For many years he has been a leader in the Congregational Church and since 1896. has been one of its deacons, and is also a member of the Society’s committee of this church. In politics he has been a life-long Republican, but has declined political honors for many years, serving now only on the school board.
The house at 84 Windham Street in Willimantic was built in 1898 and was the home of Lorenzo Litchfield, a station agent for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. His wife, Lizzie Amelia Pomeroy, widow of John Bliss Fuller, was a member of the D.A.R. and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
Nicholas Vincent, New York ship builder, erected the house at 184 Rowayton Avenue in Rowayton, Norwalk in 1842 for his son John R. Vincent. The house next door was built the same year for his daughter, Catherine. John R. Vincent was a ship carpenter who also owned a livery stable and a saloon.
The house at 47 Prospect Place in Bristol was built c. 1880 for A.J Muzzy, an active businessman and politician who, explains his biography in Taylor’s Souvenir of the Capitol (1899), was “popularly known as the ‘Bristol hustler.'” As related in this same biography:
Hon. Adrian J. Muzzy of Bristol, republican senator from the Fourth district, is a highly honored native and merchant of Bristol, and was born January 24, 1851. He received an excellent education in the public schools. At the age of nineteen he formed a copartnership under the style of W. & A. J. Muzzy and carried on a flour and feed business at the old Downs’ mill. In August of 1873, with T. F. Barbour, he opened a store for the sale of clothing and gentlemen’s furnishings, under the name of Barbour & Muzzy. In September, 1876, he sold out his interests in W. & A. J. Muzzy and Barbour & Muzzy and succeeded O. B. Ives in the dry goods business at the Riverside Avenue store. In January of 1883 he admitted his brother, F. L. Muzzy, as a partner. The firm has built up, as it highly deserves, the largest business in that section of the state. Mr. Muzzy was the chief promoter, and one of the charter members of the Bristol and Plainville Tramway Co., and is at present a director and its secretarv. He is also president of the Masonic Building Co., a member of the Masonic Chapter, Royal Arcanum, Son of the American Revolution and Country Club. On May 22, 1873, he married Florence E. Downs of Bristol. They have one child living, Adnenne F., born April 19, 1885.
Camp meetings were a notable feature of religious life in nineteenth-century America and some continue in existence today. This site has already featured the Plainville Campground and Camp Bethel in Haddam. Another religious campground is the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association. It was established by Methodists who held the first meeting here on September 3, 1860. Today it is an interdenominational Evangelical Association. At its height the camp had 300 buildings, primarily cottages built by individual churches or families. A third of them were destroyed by the hurricane of 1938 and another hundred were lost to neglect over the ensuing decades. 100 cottages remain and constitute an architectural treasure. Read the rest of this entry »
The German Lutheran Church in Seymour, later known as Immanuel Lutheran Church, was organized in 1893. A church building at 56 West Street in Seymour was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1894. In the 1970s the church’s congregation moved to a larger building on Great Hill Road in Oxford. The former church on West Street, much remodeled, is now owned by the Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League.