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I decided to start sharing the Cheney Mill buildings with some of the most interesting ones I found. I wish I had been there on a sunny day, when I could have gotten out to explore, but nature decided we needed rain. I was able to find some historic information, from the National Register of Historic Places and from a website called Historic Places Connecticut and from the Manchester Historic Society. I’m not going to try to paraphrase them. I am starting with the Ribbon Mill. The Historic Society is located in the old machine shop (which is mentioned below).
East of the Machine Shop, across Pine Street, are two rectangular-shaped, east-west oriented, three-story Ribbon Mills (162 Pine Street) that are linked by a smaller building of similar construction. A partially raised basement gives the two main structures a 3 1/2-story appearance. Twenty-over twenty sashes light the interior work areas, while brick buttresses help support the exterior walls. These edifices still serve the textile industry but not in their original capacity.Manchester Historic Society
The Ribbon Mill was built in two phases in 1907-1909. A turbine engine was installed in the Engine Room to provide power to the Ribbon Mill. It was the first turbine engine in Manchester. The building has 100,000 square feet. Beginning in 1936, Manchester Modes, a local firm that made ladies’ fashions, rented and later bought this mill. The Ellis family-owned Manchester Modes as well as textile operations in New Britain. Today it serves as apartments.Manchester Historic Society
Spinning Mills (63 Elm Street). Erected in 1886 at the southeast corner of Forest and Elm Streets, this complex, consists chiefly of three three-story, rectangular-shaped, east-west oriented, approximately 300-foot-long mills and one similarly constructed operatives*cafeteria. The west-facing group features low-pitched gable roofs and rectangular six-over-six sashes set in segmentally arched openings, and it is distinguished particularly by a five-story clock tower projecting from a three-story pavilion at the center of the front facade. Highlighting the tower are brick quoins, belting, and corbeling plus round arched front windows and occasional keystones. Apparently sometime after initial construction the spaces separating the four main edifices were partially enclosed to create additional work areas.
Other Mill Buildings. Across Forest Street north of the Spinning Mills are three west-facing Weaving Mills (91 Elm Street) that are almost identical to the Velvet Mills in design and age. Apparently, the Weaving Mills are used now primarily as warehouses. East of them, across Elm Street, are a rectangular-shaped, two-story, early 20th-century Machine Shop (175 Pine Street and 199 Forest Street) and an adjacent irregular-shaped two-story support building (96 Elm Street). Neither structure serves its original function, but both are in fair condition.
North of these are two unique early 20th-century buildings that were essential to the Cheneys’ receipt of raw silk shipments by rail. One is an east-facing, three-story, shed-roofed, windowless Silk Storage Vault (110 Elm Street). Across its front (east) facade are seven irregular bays, each containing a heavy steel door. Raw silk was taken off incoming rail cars and kept here until it was needed in the mills. The second, and northernmost, structure is a one-story oblong Rail Car Vault (2 Elm Terrace). Plain except for a corbeled cornice, this one story red brick edifice rests on a concrete and stone foundation, is windowless, and has only one entrance, a large steel double door on the south end. Rail cars carrying silk were kept here until their contents could be removed to the Silk Storage Vault.
The Second Annual Thursday Doors Writing Challenge begins on Sunday. In addition to the weekly recap, Sunday’s post will include a refresher course on the rules of participation – it’s really not that hard, pick a door, write something.
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