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 »
After the Civil War, there was an influx of Irish immigrants arriving in South Manchester to work at the Cheney Brothers’ silk mill. The Cheneys donated an acre of land on Main Street where the cornerstone for a new Catholic church was laid in August of 1874. The silk factory was closed that day to allow full attendance of Catholic residents. In spite of the liberal attitude of the Cheneys, there was also anti-Catholic sentiment in Manchester. The unfinished church was vandalized during the night of May 4-5, 1876. Thirty-five stained glass windows were smashed, altar ornaments were stolen and the vandals attempted to set the church on fire. Work on Saint James Church continued and the Gothic edifice was dedicated on August 20, 1876.
The Second Congregational Church of Manchester was formed and its first house of worship was built in the northern section of town in 1851. A new church was built on the same site, 385 North Main Street, in 1889. It is a Shingle style edifice on a high rusticated brownstone foundation. Read the rest of this entry »
The building that was once the Manchester Green Elementary School is located at 549 Middle Turnpike East in Manchester. It was built in 1921-1923. Earlier school buildings had served the village of Manchester Green going back to 1751. Ending its role as an elementary school in 1978, the building was then converted to become the Manchester Senior Center.
Located at 146 Hartford Road in Manchester is a former office building of the Cheney Brothers silk mills. The office was built in 1910, replacing an earlier office. After the Cheney Brothers mills closed, the building was owned at different times by the electric company and Manchester Community College. Currently it serves as the offices of Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering firm.