Thompsonville in Enfield was once home to a substantial carpet manufacturing industry. In 1901, the Hartford Carpet Company of Enfield merged with the E.S Higgens & Company of New York to form the Hartford Carpet Corporation. Expansion followed and in c. 1902-1905 the company built a large mill building for the production of Axminster, a type of tufted-pile carpet. Located at the southern end of the factory complex, the Axminster Building is a four-story structure with a strong structural system to contain the many massive broadlooms required for production of Axminster. The building’s east end was once a common wall shared with the Color House, which has since been demolished. A new Axminster building was constructed in 1923. By that time the Hartford Carpet Corporation had merged with the Bigelow Carpet Company of Clinton, Massachusetts to form the Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Company (1914). Today the former carpet mill complex has been converted into the Bigelow Commons apartments. Read the rest of this entry »
Riley Ives and his son Edward produced uniform buttons during the Civil War in Plymouth Center. After the War they switched to the production of parts for mechanical wind-up toys. They assembled their toys in several shops in the village. In 1868, Edward Ives founded his own factory on Maple Street. Called the Ives Manufacturing Company, he soon moved it to Bridgeport where it became the largest manufacturer of toy trains in the United States from 1910 until 1924. His father continued to make toys in Plymouth. In 1921 an Ives factory building, built c. 1870, was moved from Maple Street to 694 Main Street to be used as the Plymouth Grange Hall. Plymouth Grange, No. 72, was organized on December 7, 1887. As described in the History of the town of Plymouth, Connecticut (1895), compiled by Francis Atwater:
The grange now own the building on Main street next to the post office, in Plymouth Center, and have a well furnished hall where meetings are held every alternate Wednesday evening. One prominent feature at each meeting is the “lecturer’s hour.” This is composed of select readings, essays, and discussions on farm topics, recitations, music and debates. In fact, anything that pertains to the household or the farm. This gives the farmer and his family an opportunity for social intercourse and intellectual improvement, which, owing to their isolated vocation, were it not for the grange, they would be deprived of. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity,” is one of the underlying principles of the order.
The building now houses businesses.
The Glastonbury Knitting Company (begun as the Glastenbury Knitting Company in 1855) later expanded to Manchester with a mill at Manchester Green. A mill was first built on the site in 1851 and rebuilt after a fire in 1861. The mill produced men’s long woolen underwear. An interesting item that appeared in the September 2, 1911 issue of Fibre and Fabric: The American Textile Trade Review (Vol. 54, No. 1382) stated that:
The Glastonbury Knitting Co. shut down their mill at the Green last Saturday for a week. So many of the employees desired a vacation that the managers decided to shut down. The company is fairly busy, and at the present time gives employment to about 70 hands.
The mill was expanded over the years (did it reach its current form in 1901?), but closed in the 1920s (although the company’s mill in Glastonbury was in operation until 1936). Since that time the old mill building (501 Middle Turnpike East) has been used as an antique store, drug store, bar, a printer’s shop, a shoe store, a warehouse, a bookshop and two different furniture stores. Read the rest of this entry »
The Glastenbury Knitting Company (which, like the town where it was founded, later changed the spelling of its name to “Glastonbury“) was founded in 1855 by Addison L. Clark. The company produced men’s wool underwear (long johns, called “union suits” during the Civil War), reaching its peak during World War I when it produced 400,000 pairs for the U.S. army. Having acquired the Eagle Manufacturing Company woolen mills in Glastonbury 1855, the company built its first mill (c. 1860), just upstream on Salmon Brook, at the outlet to a small mill pond called Addison Pond. A fire in 1892 destroyed part of the mill, but Clark soon rebuilt and in 1897, a year after his death, the surrounding mill village of Eagleville was renamed Addison in his honor. The mill itself was expanded over the years, until about 1910. The company went out of business in 1936, during the Great Depression. The old mill was later used as a warehouse, but in 2005 it was acquired by developers who have converted it into upscale apartments under the name Addison Mill Apartments. The developers recreated a tower, destroyed by fire in the late 1930s, that had stood at the building’s western end. The new tower serves as a stairwell.
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.