The Windham Textile and History Museum (411 Main Street in Willimantic) presents the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of Willimantic’s textile industry, focusing on the Willimantic Linen Company, whose former mill buildings are located just across the street. These mills were later owned by the American Thread Company. In 1985 they were acquired by developer Jonathan Dugan. The museum opened in 1989 in two buildings erected by the company in 1877 and donated by Dugan in 1986. One is the former company store (pictured above), which had a library for workers on the third floor called Dunham Hall. The other (pictured below) is called the Dugan Mill, the upper floor of which was added during the first decade of the twentieth century to be used as the headquarters for the American Thread Fire Brigade. It later became a meeting hall which was recently restored for use by the museum.
Oliver Filley, Jr. was a farmer and tinsmith who served as a militia captain during the War of 1812, although his Connecticut militia unit did not see any combat. Capt. Filley built the house at 130 Mountain Avenue in Bloomfield for his son Jay in 1834. The floorplan of the house consists of two intersecting wings, with the living quarters primarily in the west wing. The house, which has walls constructed of rubblestone and multi-colored traprock, was the third stone house to be built in Bloomfield, following a house built two years earlier by David Grant and the Francis Gillette House. The Filley House and farm were sold out of the family in 1849 and five years later was acquired by Samuel Bushnell Pinney. In 1913 the farm was acquired by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, a Catholic order which had a seminary in Hartford. They owned the property until 1987. It was acquired by the Town of Bloomfield in 1992. The Wintonbury Historical Society soon leased the house and began planning for its restoration. It will become a museum, cultural center, research library, and office for the Society.
The house on the right in the picture above is the Tremko-Stebbins House, located on Route 44 in the Warrenville section of Ashford. The building on the left is a former Post Office. The house was built c. 1773 by Thomas Stebbins Sr., who bought 1/4 of an acre from Benjamin Clark. The last owner of the house was George T. Tremko, who bought it in 1946 from Abbie M. Balch (she served on the Ashford Board of School Visitors, to which she was elected in 1898). It was known as the post-master’s house because the Tremko’s were involved with the post office next door. The Town of Ashford bought the house via eminent domain in 1987 and there were plans to take it down and build a new library on the premises. The Ashford Historical Society helped to save the house and to acquire a grant to rehabilitate its exterior (this work was completed in 2014-2015). The town is waiting for another grant to rehabilitate the interior of the house, after which it can be used as a Museum and Tourist Information Center.
Thanks to Joan E. Bowley, Pres. of the AHS, for information on the house.
Southbury‘s first Town Hall was built in 1873 in the South Britain section of town. In the preceding years South Britain had developed as an industrial center and come to rival Southbury’s town center in importance. Annual town meetings had alternated between the two until South Britain used its influence to have the Town Hall erected at 624 South Britain Road, just before a period of industrial decline set in. The building continued to serve as the center of town government until 1964. It is now operated as a museum by the Southbury Historical Society.
Frederick Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School in Washington, was also the founder, in 1852, of the Washington Library Association, of which he became president in 1855. In the 1880s the Library Association evolved into the Washington Reading Room & Circulating Library Association, which opened a reading room in 1891. E.H. Van Ingen pledged land and money toward erecting a permanent library building in 1902 and the completed building was dedicated in 1908. It was designed by noted architect Ehrick K.Rossiter, who had become a summer resident of Washington. The interior has ceiling murals by Washington resident H. Siddons Mowbray and bronze busts by English sculptor A. Bertram Pegram. The local DAR branch had opened a historical room in a nearby house in 1899. This collection was turned over to the library in 1907. Originally located in the library’s basement, the museum later collection moved to the adjacent house, bequeathed to the library by June S. Willis in 1965. A new 7,500 square foot addition, five times the size of the original library, was completed in 1994. The plans were drawn by King & Tuthill.
Although the Town of Mansfield decided to erect a town hall at a meeting held on December 3, 1838, electors wrangled over the details for three years. A building committee was finally confirmed on January 24, 1842 and the building was completed the following year. Located in the village of Spring Hill, near the geographic center of town, the old Town Hall was joined by a new Town Office Building on the same property, built in 1934. In the late 1970s, town offices moved to what is now the Audrey Buck Municipal Building. In 1980, the two older town buildings were occupied by the Mansfield Historical Society, which renovated the Old Town Hall to become a museum.
The former Machine Shop of the Cheney Brothers silk mill in South Manchester was constructed in several phases beginning in 1895. Extending from Elm Street to Pine Street, the 40,000 square-foot Machine Shop was built to repair German-made velvet looms. In later years, after the silk mill closed, David Rines operated a one-man machine shop on the lower level (Forest Street side) of the building from 1975 to 1995. Located at 175 Pine Street, the building was purchased by the Manchester Historical Society in 1999 and rehabilitated to become the Manchester History Center.