Thursday Doors – Save the Ville

First Church of Christ
Back door to the church

On the other side of Farmington from Miss Porter’s School, is an area known as Unionville. Unionville is not one of Connecticut’s 169 towns, but a lot of people talk about Unionville as if it’s a free state. Several years ago, there were signs in front of houses and some businesses that simply said “Save the Ville”. I’m not sure what people were being asked to save the ville from, or if the ville had fallen into an abandoned well and the folks had sent Lassie to get help.

The ville is a mix of old and new buildings. The most significant ones are arranged around a 5-way intersection that can only be described as “something you should avoid” unless you’re very familiar with the ville.

The first time I tried to get some photos for a “Unionville Doors” post, I discovered Tunxis Hose Company 1 and that consumed my entire post.

When I was feeding my daughter’s cats, back in August, I did a little walk around the ville for a doorscursion. That is now an accepted term, Norm used it in a post, so… I had hoped to dig in and do some research, but I wasn’t able to find much information about several of the buildings. One building that is featured is the First Church of Christ – Unionville, and, at least parts of this building date back to 1772 (which is a good long time). This church was a hub of the Underground Railroad. According to its webpage, the church housed the slaves of the Amistad during the first civil rights case in the United States. That’s pretty cool.

Another interesting building is The Unionville Bank and Trust Company building. In this case, the bank wasn’t nearly as sound as the building. The bank was founded in 1922. The building was finished in 1929, and the Bank failed in 1932.

There is also a wonderful old mill building that has been turned into retail and professional office space, but I wasn’t able to find out much about its history. Nor did I have much luck discovering the history of the Youth Services building or the museum. It’s OK. I love to find the history of these buildings, but sometimes, I all I get is the photos. This is one of those times.

One building in the gallery was a sad find for me. Wm. R. Hartigan & Son. “Quality woodworking since 1869.” But, sadly, they no longer seem to be in business. They were manufacturers of:

“Nailed Wood Boxes And Shook”

Do you know what “shook” is?

I do, but I had to look it up. Shook is the word used to describe the wooden pieces that can be used to assemble barrels (i.e. barrel staves) or shipping boxes. So, Wm. & Son made boxes and do-it-yourself boxes. I wonder if they shipped shook in boxes…’cuz that would be weird.

Thursday Doors, doorscursions and the research and wondering about doors and buildings that happen to have doors, is a product/service/addiction inspired and supported by Norm Frampton. If you want to present a door(s) photo, or if you just want to see a bunch of doors, head on over to Norm’s place. Check out Norm’s doors, because he always has some beauties and then look for the blue button. Click on that puppy, actually, it’s a frog, and check out the rest of the doors and/or add your own.

78 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Save the Ville

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  1. This Ville is definitely full of rich character and history. It is a shame someone doesn’t want to revitalize the old Harriman and Son Co. The homes and area look nice!
    I liked First Church’s entryway the best with lovely stone and beautiful red door, Dan.
    I had forgotten the meaning of “shook” and may need to use this is a sentence to my brother, the artist next time I see him. He puts together garbage or refuse containers and tables for the Cleveland FatHead’s brewery, using barrels. Not artistic but good recycling of old beer barrels. :)

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    1. Thank Robin. They seem to be renovating some of the old buildings. I know there are condos being built in an old mill, not far from this area. It’s a fun place for a short walk, and it’s an area where I feel safer on foot than I do in my car. Any recycling of material is a good use. Whatever we can keep out of the landfills, helps the planet.

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  2. I was born in South London and at the bottom of our road there was what we called “the wood yard”. What these people did was repair beer crates (hence the relevance to ‘shook’ above). They had a couple of buildings where the work was done but all of the crates – both before and afters -sat in square arrays of about 12 to each side and about 10 high. We used the wood yard for three things really. One, we would hollow out the stands and make camps inside. This, obviously, involved climbing the fence in the evening – no notion of security guards in the 1950s. Every so often, there would be a spate of making what they now call go-karts and two wheeled scooters. Any old wheels, one of the boxes from the yard as a seat and some of the scrap ‘shook’ that was lying about. For decoration, we use bottle tops as, I am sure that you will remember, when the barmen took the top off a beer bottle, using a bottle opening – none of these fancy on the bar units then – the top would fall into the beer crate. Our scooters and go-carts were very colourful given the wide range of beer top colours. The beer tops were nailed on. Great memory. Thanks for reminding me Dan.

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    1. Thanks for that, David. I remember sneaking into company lots, climbing fences, shimmying through gates that were designed to keep cars out, but not skinny young kids. I see these old shipping boxes being sold in antique shops today, and I think of the ones we took apart to add to our tree house or some other project. I do remember using bottle caps as decorations, and to make signs by nailing them onto a board in a pattern. Great stuff. I’m not picturing you rolling down the street in your contraption :)

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    1. Thanks! If you can avoid that intersection, it’s a great place. The Farmington River runs through the center. There’s a bike path and lots of pretty sights. I do enjoy going over there, but I almost always go the “back way.”

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  3. Don’t you just love that sense of discovery when exploring an unfamiliar area?
    There is a Unionville just north of Toronto too – although our’s isn’t nearly as old as your’s. Coincidentally, I was in Unionville not long ago too … but I was shopping and lunching, not on a doorscursion. Sometimes I get my priorities mixed up ;)

    But your Unionville is lovely. I particularly like the stone building. Imagine the work that goes into (1) collecting all those stones and then (2) assembling them. A LOT of attention to detail!!
    I like the repurposing of the old mill too. The melding of old and new is hugely appealing to me.

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  4. Pretty witty today, Dan :)
    I love the collection — especially the stone and the old bank — both so striking!

    It’s good to know that Norm has the power to turn all my made-up words into acceptable terms ;)

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    1. I have no problem giving credit where credit is due. The term “doorscursion” is Joey’s, the rest of us are just borrowing it because it works so perfectly.
      Now we just have to figure out how to get it included in English dictionaries ;-)

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  5. Awesome collection this week Dan and I learned me a new word: shook, who knew?
    I have to say anything outside of standard 3 or 4-way intersections scare me, so I’d probably need a guide to take me in the back way.

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  6. I love, love, love the stone building of Farmington Youth Services and, like you, would appreciate seeing the original door. I bet it was far more interesting than the current door. Thanks for sharing Unionville with us, sans the history of the buildings. The photos are great, Dan.

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    1. Thanks Mary. I have to have an update post at some point. that way, I can add any history I discover after the fact or the stuff people add. Last week, one reader pointed out that the building that had the blue, red and green doors is where the Mayor of Hartford lives. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t get nabbed taking those photos in the early AM.

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  7. Of course, the title of your post could only intrigue me. And this ville place is kind of intriguing too with its protest mood. It interests me and sometimes amuses me to see the local American cries to Save something. In California, there are many that beg to Save the Craziness of such or such town. In the case of the ‘Ville,’ I hope that someone will always stands up for its doors. They are simply stunning. Always a weakness for any red door.

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  8. ‘Save the Ville’ sounds like an old money town to me. And that stone building just adds to it. That building is so very pretty as is the First Church of Christ. It saddens me that it costs a fortune if you want to build a building ‘they way they used to build them.’ Everything in my town has to be built to hurricane code; that is supposed to explain away the high cost to live/have an office in anything downtown. Sad.

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    1. I think the stone buildings could withstand a hurricane but an earthquake would drop them pretty quickly. I’m not sure if the Ville is old money or original families. Farmington is very attractive to new money, so it’s hard to figure. In any case, its expensive

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  9. Has a nice ring too it “nailed wood boxes and shook”
    Am glad you looked it up -had no idea:) What a find!
    Yes, some seem not too much having the feeling of being integrated in the USA (that is kind of foreign to a Dutchman/woman – I guess much more social control in Europe…)

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  10. Hi Dan – I first heard Joey use “doorscursion” – which she likely got from Norm… and love that word.

    also love the shook – thanks for the history (again) and it would be weird to ship that in the wooden box – lol
    lovely door post amigo

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  11. Your Thursday Door series reminds me of a TV show where the contestant was asked which door do you want to open. I understand your excitement at discovering what is right around the corner. Loved this post, Dan. I was fascinated by the stone building and the First Church’s red door. Gorgeous! Loved the history I gained here today about the Ville. I was riveted with this post as I read it. You bring history to life. Thank you!! <3

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  12. Neat discovery! I like the white porticoes on the Mill. The white paint really stands out against the red brick doesn’t it.

    Hahaha! I like Jan’s tongue twister. Just try saying that 5 times fast! I had no idea what “shook” was. Thanks for that bit of information.

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    1. Thanks. I hope to learn more about the mill, and feature some of the other photos I have of it. Right now, I have conflicting information. I’ve read that is burned in 1988 and was rebuilt, but it doesn’t look like it was rebuilt to me. There are other mill buildings in this general area, so maybe I have the wrong one. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out at some point. Generally, in this part of the country, if you follow a river long enough, you’ll find an old mill building.

      I was tempted to adapt the nursery rhyme into something like “Simple Simon shipped some shook… But I think I was confused with Peter Piper :)

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  13. Loved it. The history, the buildings, the doors and your narrative. The stone building reminded me of a church in Mumbai close to my ancestral home. Never visited the church, but it was on my way to college. I and Sarah were watching YouTube today and we saw a drone video of Hartford done by someone. We loved it, but the guy was just flying around the Boat Building and Science Center and there was this other building red brick walls but had a golden dome. You know something like in Boston.

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        1. That’s I-91 (Interstate) the major north-south road through CT. I take that to the north end of Hartford each day, but then I cross the river and continue down the east side. That’s the Connecticut River. I have tons of pictures of the city from Great River Park, which is on the east side of the river, and from the bridge I drive across (it has a sidewalk, so I park and walk back). Here’s one you might enjoy – https://flic.kr/p/daKWsq

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          1. Loved the picture. That’s where the drone was hovering. If I ever come there I am coming to Hartford for sure. Now I seriously need to look out for travel sponsors. Ha ha. Few of my colleagues are there in Boston right now doing some post graduation in dentistry.

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