Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

Making Places: Historic Mills of Connecticut

Connecticut's industrial heritage is evident in the many communities that developed around mills and factories from the early 19th century through the mid-20th century. The Making Places program has surveyed these places where things were, and in some cases still are, made.

Explore the breadth and variety of mills and factories across the state, identify opportunities for redevelopment, learn to appreciate the architecture of mill buildings, and find out how you can enjoy the spaces inside:

Explore our new website, Mills: Making Places of Connecticut!

The information presented in the website is an expansion of the 1981 survey,  Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, sponsored by the Historic American Engineering Record and the Connecticut Historical Commission. Over 1,400 extant mill buildings and complexes throughout Connecticut are documented, including vacant, underutilized and distressed sites that may present opportunities for rehabilitation and re-use.  

Many mills have already been adapted to new uses, and Making Places has gathered case studies of successful mill reuse projects. Visit our preview Got Mill?  to see what is possible for a distressed mill in your town. Contact us to arrange a presentation tailored to your community.

In an initiative intended to spur redevelopment of mill buildings, Making Places provided financial assistance through a pilot competitive grant program in 2014-15 and awarded a total of $339,000 to nine projects profiled below to fund early stage strategic planning projects. Making Places has also awarded limited scope professional problem solving and task completion in the form of Technical Assistance Consultancies on a competitive basis to stimulate project initiation and momentum. 

Please feel free to contact us with information about industrial resources in your town, or for more information.

Renée Tribert, Project Manager- Making Places

Making Places was funded by the State Historic Preservation Office, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development through the Community Investment Act.

Making Places Grant Awards 2014-2015

U. S. Rubber Company, 45-55 Bartholomew Avenue, Hartford (1912)

The Hartford Rubber Works Company was established in 1881 to manufacture bicycle and, later, automobile tires. The United States Rubber Company took over in 1905 and expanded the facility in 1912 with support buildings including the concrete boiler house and brick tire storage building, both vacant since 1996.

Hands-on-Hartford, a 501(c)3 social service nonprofit organization that serves Hartford’s neediest residents in the areas of food, housing, and economic security, was awarded up to $50,000 to prepare construction plans and specifications for the reuse of these buildings as supportive housing. The grand opening of the facility took place in 2016.

Gardiner Hall Jr. Company, 156 River Road, South Willington (c.1870)

The Gardiner Hall Jr. Company mill complex was built largely between 1870 and 1916, and was a family run spooled thread operation through 1954. Conant Brook was impounded to create Hall’s Pond.

The Mill Works offers office and studio space for creative professionals in half of the complex. In partnership with Windham Arts, the Friends of the Mill Works was awarded up to $15,000 to comply with a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection mandate for development of an emergency plan and annual inspections for the on-site dam.

Ball and Socket Manufacturing Co., 493 West Main Street, Cheshire (1850, with additions through 1917)

Founded in 1850, the Cheshire Manufacturing Company located its facility along the Farmington Canal and New Haven Northampton Railroad (both now defunct). Renamed Ball & Socket Manufacturing in 1901, it produced buttons and clothes fasteners until 1994. Since then, only a small portion of the dozen building complex has been occupied.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit Ball & Socket Arts Inc. was established to transform the facility into a creative arts complex. The Connecticut Trust awarded up to $50,000 for a strategic study to identify the potential market and audience demand and inform planning. The project has also received $400,000 for environmental activities from DECD through the town, and the nonprofit continues work toward realization of its plans with support from the local community.

Belding-Corticelli Mill, 107 Providence Street, Putnam (1872)

The Belding-Corticelli Thread Company mill was built as the Powhattan Mill in 1872. Located along the Quinebaug River, the underutilized mill is the northern anchor of the Industrial Heritage Overlay District. Worker housing historically associated with the mill remains nearby on Powhattan and Mohegan Streets.

The Town of Putnam Redevelopment Agency has been awarded up to $49,000 to support a National Register of Historic Places nomination, condition assessment, and redevelopment pro-forma. DECD’s Historic Brownfields Revitalization Program awarded $300,000 to support environmental remediation at the site.

Hendey Machine Company, 105 Summer Street, Torrington (1896 with expansions through 1931)

Started in 1870, the Hendey Machine Company manufactured lathes, shapers and innovative quick-change gear boxes. Only a small portion of the facility is now in use. The site currently comprises two legal parcels; the Connecticut Department of Transportation has proposed developing a bus maintenance facility at part of the site.

The Torrington Historic Preservation Trust, a nonprofit committed to the preservation of Torrington’s diverse historic resources, was awarded $50,000 for a market feasibility analysis and redevelopment recommendations for the Hendey Machine Company complex. The report was shared with DOT to inform its planning process. 

Turshen Mill, 495 Church Street, Hebron (1927)

Built in 1927 by Ira Turshen with salvaged materials, the quirky structure has housed a grain mill, Ellmore Silver Co., a silver plating operation, and most recently an antique shop, but has been vacant since 2010. Adjacent to the Air Line Rail Trail, it is within the Amston Village District, a targeted redevelopment zone.

The Town of Hebron was awarded up to $35,500 for National Register documentation, condition assessment, Phase I Environmental Assessment, redevelopment pro-forma and public outreach activities. The project laid the groundwork to move forward with practical actions such as a Brownfields assessment application, STEAP grant application and zoning review.

Granite Mill,  196-200 Yantic Street, Norwich (c.1840)

The earliest surviving industrial building associated with the Falls Co., which made cotton cloth, ticking and sheeting, the Granite Mill is located within the Uncas Leap Heritage Area, an historically important site to the Mohegan Tribe. While the granite walls of the building are stable, the roof and interior structure have collapsed after years of exposure.

Structural analysis and construction specifications for stabilization were underwritten by an $18,600 grant to the Norwich Community Development Corp. to support preservation of the mill within the context of a reuse master plan for the heritage site.

Shoreline Electric Railway Power House, 2 Ferry Place, Old Saybrook (1908-1910)

The reinforced concrete generating station supplied current to the Shore Line Electric Railway, the New London and East Lyme Railway, and the Connecticut River Bridge, drawing condensing water from the river. The underutilized facility is a key property in the town's Mariner Way revitalization plan.

Municipal officials have been working with the owner to identify realistic development alternatives for the site, and the Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission contracted a feasibility analysis and preferred option development plan with $48,750 grant funding from the program.

UniRoyal Warehouse, 6 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck (1954)

Naugatuck was the center of rubber manufacturing starting in the mid-19th century after Charles Goodyear's invention of the vulcanization process. The US Rubber Co. industry in Naugatuck centered largely upon footwear, including Keds; in 1966 the company name changed to UniRoyal. When the shoe business ceased being profitable, UniRoyal shut down Naugatuck operations. This is the last building remaining from the industry.

A developer concept for artist work/live space for the site was presented to the Borough of Naugatuck; officials sought a market feasibility study for such a use. A $22,250 award underwrote the study which raised concerns as to the viability of the project, allowing the borough to make an informed decision not to apply additional resources.