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Last week, when I was poking around the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP) images from the nomination from requesting registered status for the Frog Hollow neighborhood, I stumbled on the image featured here (see below).
If you’ve followed Thursday Doors for a while, you know that a lot of people consider corner doors to be special. So, when I saw the corner entrance to this building, located under that wonderful tower, I had to know more.
These days, that building is called Billings Forge, a successful apartment complex and neighborhood revival story that makes you think preservation efforts can be successful. The following was published at PreservationCT.org in 2018
We were thrilled to present a 2018 Preservation Award to Billings Forge, one of Hartford’s first major adaptive-use projects and the driver of community-based economic development. A coalition of stakeholders has re-rehabbed it for a new generation. || Even more important is its enhanced role as a hub of the Frog Hollow neighborhood, with apartments, job-training, a restaurant, a community garden and a farmer’s market. As workplace, residence, and neighborhood anchor, Billings Forge is a dynamic fusion of past and present.PreservationCT.org
So, what or who was Billings Forge?
Well, if you go back into the mid-19th century, you’ll find a company known as Billings and Spencer. Billings and Spencer was a tool manufacturer. They made precision hand tools by what is know as the “drop forge” method.
Drop forging is a metal forming process. A workpiece is inserted into a die and then hammered until it has assumed the shape of the die. The lower die is a stationary part, while the upper part is a moving hammer dropped onto the workpiece in order to deform it.
They made very good tools. Tools for machinery, typewriters, bicycles and, later, automobiles. They continued to operate in the south end of Hartford until the 1950’s when tool manufacturers, along with other heavy industry started moving south and overseas. Fortunately, the building has been saved.
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