Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Visit to the Windham Textile and History Museum---a glance back in time

After visiting the frog bridge, we headed over to the Windham Textile and History Museum which is located in the former headquarters of the American Thread Company.  The museum "preserves and interprets the history of textiles, textile arts and the textile industry, with special emphasis on the experiences of the craftspeople, industrial workers, manufacturers, inventors, designers, and consumers."

The mill was founded in 1854 as the Willimantic Linen Company.  At one time it was the largest factory in Connecticut and the largest thread mill in all of North America.  During the 1890's the mill produced 85,000 miles of thread a day. At its height it employed 3500 workers.  The textile mill was the first factory to install electric lights, and, because of that innovation, it was also the first factory to operate a second shift of workers.

In 1898, The American Thread Company absorbed the Willimantic Linen Company.    The company grew, and they built six mills.  Most of the townsfolk worked in the mills.

In 1985, The American Thread Company closed its Willimantic factory and moved its operations first to North Carolina and then to Mexico.  Some of the wonderful old stone building still remain are now being turned into apartments.


This child's sewing machine was the smallest I've ever seen.  I left the child's rocking chair in the photo (on the left) so that you can get an idea of the size of the sewing machine and its stand.

I couldn't resist this drawing.  It reminded me of the episode in my Sturbridge class of Sue and her "exploding" skein of thread.   (Perhaps you remember the photo from my blog post a few days ago.)   Sue got a big kick out of this drawing.


Vickie said...

Such beauty! Thanks for sharing.

Margaret said...

I really enjoyed reading about the company and seeing all the wonderful sights you saw. So cool! I love history. Thanks for sharing!