East Granby Mill

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). If you like, you can add our badge to your post.

I have a lot of ground to cover today. I have the group of doors I promised over a month ago, and the research I promised to work through has revealed some interesting results. Speaking of results, we have a new badge.

Before we move to the new badge, I want to thank Teagan R. Geneviene for providing the badge we proudly displayed during 2022. Standing next to Teagan’s badge is the entry from Teresa from her “My Camera & I” blog. The contest was a tight race, and I want to thank all the contestants for their effort. Please join me in congratulating Teresa, and thanking Teagan. If you open the gallery, you will be able to right-click on the image and save it to your computer. This will be displayed on the Sunday recap as well.

For almost 40 years, I have periodically driven by what I assumed is an old mill building. I’ve often wondered what the story was, but I was never able to find much information about the building. That’s because I was looking in the wrong town.

Note: Connecticut is the third smallest state in the U.S., but it is one of the oldest. Connecticut was the 5th state. In the late 18th century, cities and towns were often defined by how far you could travel. As a result, despite our small size, Connecticut has 169 towns. The mill I’ve long admired is on a road that runs from the town I live in, through a town called East Granby. However, the mill is in Tariffville, CT.  According to NoFacilities’ research department, a.k.a. Wikipedia, “Tariffville is a neighborhood and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Simsbury in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States.”

Once I looked in Simsbury, I discovered the Tariffville Historic District listed in our National Registry of Historic Places. The information below about the mill building, as well as some of the photos in the gallery, are from this resource. I hope to explore this district further, so there may be other posts from here in the future.

Tariffville owed its inception to the availability of waterpower in the Farmington River gorge on its eastern boundary. The waterpower had long been used for gristmills, sawmills, and fulling mills whose purpose was to service the agricultural economy, but it was the United States Tariff Act of 1824 which stimulated the founding of a truly industrial enterprise, appropriately named the Tariff Manufacturing Company. A multistory stone mill was constructed in 1825 for the manufacture of woolen cloth and carpets, using immigrant labor for the skilled jobs. Scottish weavers, for example, were important to the operation, bringing with them the establishment of a Scottish Presbyterian Church.

By 1840 the population of Tariffville had grown to 200 residents. In that year, Orrin Thompson, who soon after 1825 had established a carpet mill nearby in the Thompsonville section of Enfield, came into control of the Tariffville operation as well. Rapid growth ensued. By 1852 the population was 2,000. The community became a center for trade as well as a mill village. The street pattern took form and, in 1850, the Canal Line Railroad came to the village.

Then, in 1852, a calamity occurred. Orrin Thompson went bankrupt, partly because of over-expansion at Tariffville. The population plummeted to 600, the Scottish Presbyterian Church closed its doors, and hard times were rife. Thompson reopened the manufacturing plant in 1859, on a smaller scale, but it continued only to 1867 when fire destroyed the mill.

Land records in connection with the changes in ownerships, e.g., bankruptcies, in these times are highly informative, giving a complete inventory of the machinery and other contents of the mill, and indicating the out-of-town owners’ identities. For example, George Beach of Hartford was president of Tariff Manufacturing Company when it conveyed its property to Brown Brothers & Company of New York City in 1856, as recorded in Simsbury Land Records, volume 39, page 61, to satisfy a debt of $375,000.

Connecticut Screw Company, which bought the property in 1867, constructed the replacement mill now standing. The enterprise and others that followed were never a great success. The mill passed from owner to owner. Hartford Silk Company, Hartford Carpet Company, and Hartford Cutlery Company were among the succession of textile and hardware firms that owned the mill.

National Registry of Historic Buildings

I don’t want to burden my followers with a second post , but I do want to join in Linda G. Hill’s JusJoJan challenge. Today, Lauren, of “Welcome To LSS Attitude of Gratitude” gives us the prompt word, ‘Cancer.” I struggle with this word. I thought about working cancer in as a metaphor for how fire destroyed the original mill and ruined the lives and dreams of so many people. But more than that, I simply want to wish Lauren all the best as she battles cancer. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

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    • I’m glad you liked this one, Robbie. This might be the only mill I’ve seen that did better after they stopped using it as manufacturing space. In any case, I’m glad the building was preserved.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Dan – well done to the NoFacilities research team for finding the history with its interesting tales of how life began back then – I loved reading it. I do hope they can open up the area to the public sometime … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Hilary. I would love to explore some of what remains of the original mill. The Farmington River powered so many mills in Connecticut. I realized after I posted this that 300 years is hardly “old” by comparison to your area, but it’s close to as old as we get around here.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hardly … I’m afraid – I do like our history … but understand 300 years ago for us is relatively recent … and is just before or as the Industrial Revolution was in its early days – as you’ve implied here … cheers Hilary

        Liked by 1 person

    • It is sad. Most of the old mills that I’ve shared here were thriving businesses well into the 20th century. This poor building (and its predecessor) never seemed to get off to a good start. I can’t imaging immigrating to America only to have your livelihood taken away from you in a fire. I guess that still happens, but relocating wasn’t easy back then.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting but sad history for this place. Thanks for digging so deep you found all this information. On the plus side, although this building/community suffered many setbacks, it kept rallying and is still in use today. It’s a nice looking no-nonsense building. I love that first drawing of the original settlement. Looks like a nice place to live.

    And in this day and age Dan, “trash day” goes on no matter what!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This site did have a sad start, Ginger, and never really hit its stride as a manufacturing plant. But the building was built to last and to serve, and it seems to do that well. The area is a nice quiet town, tucked away near the river. Except for stopping at one pub, I’ve only ever driven through the town.

      Trash day – the bane of photographers everywhere. I hope you’re having a nice, albeit wet week.


    • Most of the mills I have found had flourished and been a well recognized business in the community. This poor place seems to have suffered a different fate. But the building is sturdy and has provided a chance to many businesses over time.

      I enjoyed your post. Well done.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I almost always see this building as I’m coming down a steep hill directly across from it. With the river in the background, it’s hard to not be impressed. Thanks for visiting, Frank.


  3. Prayers for Lauren and everyone else struggling against cancer. Thanks for mentioning it, Dan. I really like the mill building. In this part of the world, brick buildings look rather exotic as almost all home here are Spanish style and virtually nothing is made of brick, although our “soil”, cement-like cliche, certainly would make bricks of a sort. :-)

    My doors are from Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois as have been my post over the last days and will be for a few more days. https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/thursday-doorsjapanese-doors/#japanesedoors#woodendoors#gates#AndersonJapaneseGarden#RockfordIllinois

    Happy Thursday!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Janet. Brick making was a big industry in the Connecticut River valley, so we have lots and lots of brick buildings. It’s not uncommon to see a brick, building, school or church standing where one had previously been destroyed by fire.

      I liked the Japanese doors you featured today.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the utility door and the photo with a door on the right and the river on the left the most. But most of all I like the new badge that we voted for the most. Well done, Teresa!

    I start the new door year with door gifts that others have given me and had to wait a while to be included. The best kind of gifts. Happy 2023! https://manjameximexcessive6.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/thursday-doors-5-1-23-door-gifts/#Bratislava#Istria#Piran#Oregon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Manja. If it hadn’t been raining, and if the street wasn’t so narrow, I would have tried to get a picture of the arched tailrace, which is still visible. I was glad to find the historic photo.

      Great gifted doors on display at your place. I need my friends to travel more :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Year Dan to you and your family. Many doors and locations. The red two story building with the large chimney, somewhere in the middle on the left side looks most interesting to me. Of course I also like the watercolor door and the graphic pen landscape. You are off to a huge start in 2023!! Here’s mine


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Emille. I’m not sure if the portion of the building you like was part of the original (rebuilt) mill or added on later. The history doesn’t give a lot of details, perhaps because of the number of times the mill changed hands over time. I am glad you like the new badge.

      You have some beautiful photos in your collection today.


    • Thanks Bruce. The fall colors are an indication of how long it took me to find the history ;-) I am always happy when a building like this can be saved and can find a useful purpose for new businesses. Sitting next to that river, this is a very important piece of history for Connecticut.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] more doors from all over the world/grid… please visit… Dan’s No Facilities site https://nofacilities.com/2023/01/05/east-granby-mill/We never know what gems we will find as we wander the paths we come across. I woke this morning to a […]


  7. Happy New Year and an excellent post you’ve shared with us. The term ‘bungalow’ suggests small, quaint, unique dwelling to me. I especially like the red door on one of the white bungalows.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the new badge! It is wonderful that you do the research because it’s incredible how history surprises us. We think we know but we are often proven wrong when we research. Lovely old buildings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like the building and the badge, Pam. I enjoy doing the research, but it can be a funny thing at times. This building’s history eluded me for a long time. Obviously, it was the result of my continuing mistake, but still.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Where to start? First my prayers going out to Lauren for sure! Hubs just learned of his diagnosis of leukemia before Christmas and we’re still trying to get our landlegs back so to speak. And just want to say a huge congratulations to Teresa for the vote/win! I truly admire artists with watercolor talent. Well chosen peeps!! And as for your plethora of photos and history, I always appreciate the good read with the photos. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for all of that, and your husband will also be in our prayers. I wish him the best. I think the badge will be fun to display throughout the year.

      I’m glad you liked the history here, and thanks for including links to the history of your doors.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great post, Dan! Your historical walk brought back so many memories of living in Connecticut for ten years. I was and am entranced by our country’s beginnings in that beautiful State. Thank you. And congratulations to Teresa for the doors badge — beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Gwen. Connecticut played a significant role in the early development of our country. I love it when I can find examples of how we came to be the state we are today.


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