At the confluence of Bigelow Brook and the Hockanum River in Buckland, Manchester is a former factory complex known as Hilliard Mills. Aaron Buckland had a woolen mill on the site by 1794 (and perhaps as early as 1780). The mill provided blankets for soldiers in the War of 1812. As related in the first volume of The Textile Industries of the United States (1893), by William R. Bagnall:
We have no information concerning the mill or its business after the war till 1824, in which year, on the 20th of September, Aaron Buckland sold the property to Andrew N. Williams and Simon Tracy, of Lebanon, Conn. Williams & Tracy operated the mill less than four years and sold it, March 13, 1828, to Sidney Pitkin, also of Lebanon. Mr. Pitkin owned the mill, alone, till July 31, 1832, on which date he sold an interest in the property of one fourth to Elisha E. Hilliard, one of his employes. They operated the mill nearly ten years till April 26, 1842, when Mr. Pitkin sold the remaining three fourths to his partner, Mr. Hilliard.
Elisha Edgarton Hilliard sold one-fourth to Ralph E. Spencer in 1849, but he was sole owner again by 1871. The company made blankets and clothing for the Union Army during the Civil War. A small manufacturing village called Hilliardville (see pdf article) once existed near the mill.
After E. E. Hilliard‘s death in 1881 his son, Elisha Clinton Hilliard, ran the company. E. C. Hilliard moved his family to Woodland Street in Hartford in 1890 while his unmarried sisters, Maria Henrietta and Adelaide Clementine, continued to live in Hilliardville. E.C. Hilliard’s daughter, Charlotte Cordelia, married Lucius B. Barbour. They lived at the Barbour House on Washington Street in Hartford and summered at their cottage in Fenwick. E.C. Hillard’s son, Elisha Earnest Hilliard, ran the mill after his father’s death.
The mills closed in 1940 and were afterwards used by other manufacturers, including United Aircraft Corporation during World War II and Bezzini Brothers, furniture manufacturers. The surviving mill buildings are currently being redeveloped for business and commercial uses.
Pictured above is Hilliard Mills Building #2, which was built in 1895 by E. C. Hilliard. The building has irreplaceable long-grain yellow pine beams and birds-eye rock maple flooring. Read the rest of this entry »
Bradley, Hoyt & Co. constructed a textile mill in South Britain, on the east bank of the Pomperaug River (modern address: 24 Hawkins Road) in 1866. Two-story additions were later made to the original four-story mill. In 1901 the building was taken over by the Hawkins Manufacturing Company, makers of animal traps and other metal products. In 1895, the Hawkins Company, makers of tacks and buttons, had merged with the Blake and Lamb Company, animal trap manufacturers. The factory was powered by a nearby dam, part of which was knocked down in the Flood of 1955. The factory operated into the 1960s.
As described yesterday, Ponemah Mills in the village of Taftville in Norwich began with Mill #1, constructed in 1866-1871, which was the largest textile mill in the world under one roof. In 1884 the company moved its weaving operation to a new building, called Mill #2. Smaller than the first building, it did resemble its neighbor by having two main stair towers. These towers have unusual double hipped roofs that meet at right angles with one side being higher than the other. Behind the building there was once a trestle used for the mill’s electric railway. In 1902, weaving was again moved to a new building.
Ponemah Mills in Norwich once boasted the largest textile mill in the world under one roof. The mill buildings were constructed near a dam along the west bank of the Shetucket River. The investors who founded the company were led by Edward and Cyrus Taft of Providence, Rhode Island and the manufacturing village of Taftville was built next to the mill to house and serve the mill workers. The earliest workers were Irish immigrants. After a strike in 1875, the Irish were replaced with French-Canadian workers. The first Ponemah Mill building was constructed between 1866 and 1871. A massive mansard-roofed structure, it features two tall stair towers with roofs that have classical detailing, dormers, cupolas and turrets. In the twentieth century the mill converted to the production of synthetic fabrics. It finally closed in 1972. Later occupied by various small manufacturers, it then became the home of the Helikon Furniture Co., makers of high-end office furniture. More recently, Helikon moved out of the building and the mill is being restored to contain apartments under the name the Lofts at Ponemah Mills.
At 3015 Bronson Road in Fairfield is a windmill erected in 1893-1894 by Frederic Bronson on his estate, called Verna Farm. Standing 105 feet high, the Bronson Windmill pumped water from a well 75 feet below ground into a 7,500-gallon wooden storage tank 70 feet up inside the windmill. Note: the wheel on top of the windmill was not installed at time the photo above was taken. It remained in operation into the 1930s. The estate became the property of the Fairfield Country Day School, which gave the windmill to the Town of Fairfield in 1971. The windmill was restored around 1980. Damaged after a storm in 1996, the Bronson Windmill was restored under the management of the Fairfield Historical Society. Today it also serves as a cell phone tower: Sprint restored and rebuilt part of the structure as part of its leasing agreement.
The mill village of Talcotville in Vernon had its origins in the cotton-spinning mill set up by John Warburton in 1802 along the Tankerhoosen River in North Bolton (now Vernon). In 1835 the Warburton Mill came under the sole ownership of Nathaniel O. Kellogg, who established a manufacturing village there called Kelloggville. In 1856 the property was bought by the brothers, Horace Welles Talcott and Charles D. Talcott, who renamed the village Talcottville. The brothers continued to use the original mill buildings until a fire destroyed them in 1869. The mill complex (47 Main Street) was rebuilt the following year. A number of additions have been made over the years to the original two-and-a-half story wood frame and brick masonry building with open belfry. Brick additions were made on the south and west sides around 1880, a frame and brick addition on the north side around 1900 and a steel and brick addition, also on the north end, around 1920. The Talcott family sold the mill c. 1940/1950. Further additions were made by later owners, the last being completed in 1963. Left vacant in recent years, work is now underway to convert the Old Talcott Mill into a mixed-use building with residential apartments and commercial space, an example of adaptive reuse of a historic structure. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Halloween!! In keeping with the Fall spirit, today’s building is the Old Cider Mill in Glastonbury. Recognized as the oldest continuously operating Cider Mill in the United States (starting in the early nineteenth century?), the current building was constructed as early as the 1870s.