A group of buildings surviving from the J & E Stevens Company manufacturing complex can be found on the north side of Nooks Hill Road in Cromwell. The J. & E. Stevens Company was formed in 1843 by brothers John and Elisha Stevens. The company, which operated into the mid-twentieth century, is noted for its manufacture of cast iron toys, especially mechanical iron banks and cap pistols. On the left in the image above, at the corner of Shadow Lane, is the earliest surviving Stevens factory building, a white-painted brick structure, which later served as the main office building (it once had a cupola, since removed). The adjacent brick structures to the right were erected sometime later in the nineteenth century: the Assembly Building (white-painted brick, center) and the Pattern Shop (unpainted brick, right). Across Nooks Hill Road is the factory‘s former 1865 foundry building (not pictured), which has been much added to over the years. Other structures that were part of the complex have since been torn down. The buildings above are now home to Horton Brasses, 49 Nooks Hill Road.
Part of the Cheney Silk Mill village in South Manchester is the former Ribbon Mill at 150 Pine Street. Built in two phases between 1907 and 1909, it housed the first turbine engine in Manchester. Beginning in 1936, Manchester Modes, makers of ladies’ fashions, rented and later purchased the mill. Today the building is Ribbon Mill Apartments. Read the rest of this entry »
In the nineteenth century the area of Baileyville in Middlefield was an active industrial district. The building at 93 Baileyville Road was probably constructed around 1850 as an outbuilding for one of the mills along Ellen Doyle Brook. In 1876 it was converted into a residence by George W. Miller to house an employee of his phosphate mill. In 1921 it was purchased by the Lyman Gun Sight Corporation to house factory workers and their families.
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.