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.
Down Johnsonville Road from the Emory Johnson Homestead in Moodus, East Haddam, is a surviving building of the Neptune Twine Mills, owned by Emory Johnson and then, after his death in 1896, by his son, E. Emory Johnson. The area around Johnson’s mills was known as Johnsonville. In the “Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Year Ended November 30, 1903” (printed in Public Documents of the State of Connecticut, Vol. I, 1903; published in 1904), a picture of the building is captioned “Neptune Twine and Cord Mill, No. 3, Moodus.” The report describes the other two mill buildings as follows:
The Neptune Twine and Cord Mills, Inc., property consists of two mills, the upper one of which was constructed by Emory Johnson. In 1862 he constructed this mill, and began the manufacture of twines, and though the civil war was then in progress this mill did a successful business, and was the only one in town in operation during the entire period. The lower mill, in which Mr. Johnson had formerly an interest, again came into his possession in 1867. This mill, which was erected by Mr. Johnson’s father-in-law (Stanton S. Card), is now known as the Neptune. The name of “Neptune,” as applied to these mills, was adopted in 1864. The upper mill is 34×80 feet on the ground floor, and has two stories. On the first floor is done the carding. Its motive power is a 36-inch turbine water wheel of seventy-five horse power. The lower mill is 36×80 feet, and has four floors: on the first floor, carding, etc.: second floor, the spinning; third floor, the twisting, winding up, and on the fourth floor, the packing, baling, etc. The motive power is water, and has a force of one hundred horse power. The mills employ forty hands and consume 19,000 pounds per week. They manufacture soft and hard twines, cable cords, etc., etc.
The firm was incorporated in 1902, and the present officers are as follows: E. Emory Johnson, president and treasurer; Matthew W. Plumstead, vice president; Elsie S. Johnson, secretary and assistant treasurer.
The upper mill, known as Triton, was destroyed by fire 1924 and the lower mill, dating to 1832, was also lost in a fire in 1972. The surviving mill building (No. 3) was built in 1899 and included the mill’s office and a Post Office. As related in Fibre and Fabric, Vol. XXXV, No. 908 (July 26, 1902):
Mr. Johnson takes great pride in the appearance of his property, and the village of Johnsonville is a model of neatness. The main offices of the mills are located near the Neptune mill and are sumptuous in their appointments. In the office building is the Johnson library, containing 3,000 volumes, opened in the fall of 1899, which is free to all the employees of the mills as well as to the employees of the other factories. There is also a smoking room in the building and a room where the records of the mill for 70 years are kept. All are neat and tasty in their appointments. Mr. Johnson’s enterprise is commendable and thoughtful in promoting the welfare of the employees of the Neptune mills and is appreciated.
As described in yesterday’s post, Thomas Danforth I (1703-1786) was a prominent maker of pewter in Norwich. One of his sons, also named Thomas, established himself as a pewterer in Middletown in 1756. He handcrafted pewter in a combination workshop and store that was originally located in an artisans’ neighborhood along Henshaw Lane, now called College Street. Thomas Danforth II (1731-1782) had six sons who became pewterers. A grandson continued the trade in Middletown until 1846. The Danforth Pewter Shop was dismantled in 1979, when its College Street location was slated to become a parking lot. It was reassembled a few years later next to 11 South Main Street, at the intersection of South Main, Pleasant and Church Streets, near Union Green. The former pewter shop is privately owned and not open to the public.
Cotton duck (also called canvas) is a type of heavy cotton fabric. The Atlantic Mill, originally called the Atlantic Duck Company, was first leased in Moodus (in East Haddam) in 1852. Destroyed by fire in 1854, the mill was rebuilt and operational again by 1857. Closed during the Civil War, the mill later reopened and continued in operation until 1894. In 1898 it began operating as a twine and textile mill until it burned down in 1939. Surviving today in Moodus is the “Atlantic Duck Co. Mill House,” built c. 1855.
In 1851 Israel Stowe Spencer purchased an iron foundry on Fair Street in Guilford. The company Spencer founded, I. S. Spencer’s Sons (his sons, Christopher and George B. Spencer joined him in 1857), added a brick foundry to the property in 1869. It was enlarged in 1880. The company produced cast iron products, such as legs for school desks, lamp pedestals and bicycle parts. Frederick C. Spencer, I. S. Spencer‘s grandson, built the tower at the south end of the building in 1910. The company ceased operations in 1982. The building was converted into condominiums in 1987. Its former address was 20 Fair Street and is now 18 Fair Street.
H.D. Smith & Company, manufacturer of drop forged tools in Southington, began in the 1850′s as a supplier to New Haven area carriage makers. Originally based in Meriden, H.D. Smith soon constructed a factory on West Street in the Southington village of Plantsville. It was one of several factories there that were powered by the Eight Mile River. The company was famous for its “Perfect Handle” tools. Production later shifted to bicycle parts and then to tool kits for automobiles. The original wooden factory buildings were destroyed by fire in 1910 and replaced in 1911 with a new structure of steel and brick, designed by Charles H. Palmer of Meriden. Adjacent to the factory, at 24 West Street, is the company’s former office building, constructed in 1882.
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.