February 12, 2017

Rebuilding Connecticut by Barbara Edwards

Connecticut was once known as the industrial center of the Northeast. Every
town had manufacturing jobs and factories. Huge brick buildings up to four
stories in height towered over the streets. Unless one of your parents worked at
one, you wouldn’t know how they were built. Thick brick walls, windows large
enough to admit daylight to work by, thick steel girders to hold up the weight of
machines. 

The machines often ran twenty-four/seven.
Connecticut was famous for hundreds, maybe thousands of products. Thread
from Willimantic went worldwide. Manchester made silk. Coventry made flannel
and wool during the Civil and First World Wars. 
Waterbury brass mills made ball
bearings, buttons, fasteners.
So what happens when a mill shuts down?


The windows are covered until some vandal breaks the glass. Some of the
buildings were burned when homeless people tried to build fires on the oilsoaked
floors.
The buildings became an eye-sore.
Then that old Yankee spirit rose. How does that old saying go? Wear it out, use it
up?

Well a few entrepreneurs bought a few buildings. Using government grants and
private funds they rehabbed the structures into housing.
the effort has changed entire neighborhoods around. Condos with playgrounds
replaced weeds.

I’ve included pictures of the Ameribelle project in Rockville. Since I couldn’t get
too close because of the construction fences the pictures are from the other side.
Ameribelle made fabric sold around the world and went out of business last year.
The factory stands at the end of the town center. They’ve removed the asphalt
parking lot, uncovered the river that runs beneath one building. That waterfall
powered electricity to the machines in the 1880s and beyond.

The rehabilitation is less than half done but the area looks terrific. They removed
the newer structures, leaving the original ones.
 
I drive by daily and am fascinated by the changes. They are already landscaping
the banks of the newly exposed river. They had built an underground waterway to
allow more buildings.

This project is the third here to make housing out of unused property.
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11 comments:

Linda Swift said...

Hi Barbara, I enjoyed your post and I'm happy to see that your state is doing something positive with the buildings when businesses closed down. But it is sad that so many of our industries no longer exist. I lived in your state for several months when I was a young bride and my husband was in sub school in New London. Connecticut springs are very lovely but they come much later than spring in Kentucky. Your books sound interesting and I wish you success with all of them. If I should be your winner I would choose an historical. Linda Swift LSwiftR@aol.com

Carly Carson said...

This is interesting because I was raised in CT, and I always thought of it as the insurance state since my father was an actuary. I never thought of CT as an industrial state. :) It's all in what you're exposed to, I guess. There's also a lot of interesting history in the state.

WyomingAuthorGayle said...

Very interesting! I've not been to Connecticut before, in fact, have not spent much time in the Eastern states, but on my bucket list! So many places to visit in this lovely, intriguing, and historical country of ours! Thanks for sharing about your state!

jrlindermuth said...

The first time I went to Connecticut I got lost. But I won't hold that against the state. After all, Mark Twain thought it a good place to live.
I'm always glad to hear someone had the sense to find another use for abandoned buildings.
Enjoyed reading the post. Best of luck with your writing.

Mark R Hunter said...

Those mill fires are legendary in the fire service across the country--and not in a good way. I'm glad someone's been able to rehabilitate some of those buildings.

Barbara Edwards said...

Linda,
It is sad to see the abandoned buildings. I am glad someone is finally changing things around. Its tht Yankee spirit!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Carly,
I love history and always find something new. I was fascinated by the importation of silk worms.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Gayle,
Last year we finally did our fiftieth state. This country is the vry best anywhaere.

Barbara Edwards said...

HiJR,
I can see how you got lost. The roads are winding and narrow. Beautiful in the autumn and spring with the leaves and mountain laurel.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Mark,
It is scary to watch a building with oil-soaked floors burn for days even weeks. I've seen a couple and bbeen glad I'm not on that fire truck. Thanks for your service.

Nancy Oswald said...

I loved reading about the history and the ongoing history-making. It sounds like the entrepreneurs have the right idea by uncovering and making use of what is already there. Best of luck. nancyos@centurylink.net