Threadcity Photo Gallery

Valley Street

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Before we begin a historical look at Valley Street, let's take a pictorial walk down Valley Street as seen in 1910. The Rev. Louis Flocken, pastor of the Methodist Church, took about 125 photos throughout the city and used them in a lecture to demonstrate "the great many improvements which had been made in the city during the six years he had been a resident here".
These are the Rev. Flocken's photos of Valley Street and some intersections. We've colorized the photos for this presentation.

Saint Joseph's School

Saint Joseph's School

Children on corner of Jackson and Valley Street. Note the city's new road grader on the left.
The east mill of Holland Manufacturing

Photo taken looking north across Valley Street on Church Street. The Holland Mills are on either side of Church Street

West side of Church Street
at Valley Street.
This is the west corner of Church and Valley streets in 1910. The building with the sign was the Willimantic Printing Company at 88 Church St. The next building was Chaffee Manufacturing. It produced nylon fishing line and braided silk). Across Valley Street was the west mill of Holland Manufacturing

Valley Street (looking west from Church St.)The first building (partially visible) on the left was the Chaffee Mfg. Company which made braid. By 1950, Mayor Bergeron’s tin shop was there along with a liquor store. The next building was the Windham Silk Mill. By the 50s, it was William Brand. Then, on the corner of North and Valley, was the Washburn Block. Beyond the Washburn block, is a group of buildings housing the Willimantic Welfare Bureau (later home to Watson’s Movers), the Women’s Christian temperance Union, the Park Central Hotel, and Carpenter’s auto radiator repair. Just about visible to the left of the tree is the Turner Silk Mill, later the Trade School.

Willimantic Lumber and Coal's Church Street facade.

The North Street Facade of the Windham Silk Mill.

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
---under construction in 1910.

The Normal School looking from Windham Street

The Normal School looking from Valley Street
Here is a link
to a page with
all of Reverend
Flockens' photos


This map shows the original layout of Valley Street which ran from North Street to just beyond today's
Bank Street. There were but three dwellings on the street.
This 1869 map shows the growth of Valley Street, which now extended from Jackson Street to High Street. Courtesy of Jamie Eves.

This 1887 insurance map shows the original Saint Joseph School, a wood frame building on the corner of Valley and Jackson Street. (On all insurance maps, yellow designates wood frame, pink designates a brick building.) The convent is close to the school. A bit west stands another building which was the original Saint Joseph Church and was also being used as part of Saint Joseph’s School.


By 1910, The original school had been demolished and the convent had become a temporary home for nurses-in-training at the new, brick, Saint Joseph’s Hospital. A new convent had also been built. The new, brick Saint Joseph’s School replaced the old building while the original Saint Joseph Church and school building had been “cobbled” together as Saint Mary’s Hall. Along Wausau Place (which is todays Saint Mary’s Court) stood the original Saint Mary’s Rectory as well as several other dwellings.

The new brick Saint Joseph's Hospital with part of the wood frame nurses' home visible.

Post card photos showing the original and the new Saint Joseph's School.

Postcard photo of the new Saint Joseph's School with the old Saint Joseph's Chuch just beyond it.
  The old Saint Mary's School
This photo was taken from the parish's 1993 family photo album. The part of the building on the far right would have been closest to Valley Street. The Rectory roof is partly visible in the picture's lower left hand corner. 
Valley Street looking west.This is Valley Street looking west from approximately the front of Saint Mary’s Church. The Holland Mills buildings and storage shed are pictured. Visble in the lower right side of the photo is the wrought iron fence that is still in existence in front of Saint Mary’s. Also visible in the bottom left is the spire of the Congregational Church.    
Holland Silk Company - Valley Street
The Holland Silk Company's mills manufactured high quality silk thread in Willimantic from 1864 until 1937, the year the company located to Pennsylvania. The Holland brothers came from neighboring Mansfield, one of the first towns in the United States to manufacture silk thread 
   A group of workers gathered at the Holland Silk Mill  A group of workers gathered at the Holland Silk Mill

Corner of Valley and Church Streets
George Nason’s Lumberyard  burned on Feb. 13, 1894. At the time it burned, it was across Church Street from the original police headquarters and Town Hall. By 1895, the lot had been proposed as one of the possible sites for a new Town Hall. Eventually “the Chase lot” on the corner of High and Main was chosen. The Nason lumberyard later became Willimantic Lumber and Coal.

In the 1940s, this was Jack Roan’s garage on the northwest corner of Valley and Church Streets.  At the time, the garage specialized in tire repair, road service, lubrication and Motorola radios. In later years it became Jack Roan’s appliance store.
Insurance Map
Insurance map showing St. Mary's Church and the Holland Silk Mills.

Click on photo above to see or download a complete .pdf version of the 1897 Sanborn Insurance Map.
This is the silk mill that was located at the southeast corner of Valley and North Streets. It was built in 1882 by Frederick Dwight Chaffee for  the Morrison Machine  and  Natchaug Silk  Companies.

Morrison Machine Company & Natchaug Silk CompanyThe Morrison Machine Company's factory is the wooden structure, and was located on Valley Street.
The Natchaug Silk Company's mills, built in 1888, stood on North Street. The Morrisons manufactured silk spinning machinery, and the Natchaug Company was famous for its high quality dress silk. The former company's mills were taken over by the Windham Silk Company in 1910. The latter company went into liquidation in 1895, due to a financial scandal. The Brand Company later used their mills in the 1950s.
Morrison Machine Company and
Natchaug Silk Company

The Morrison Machine Company's factory is the wooden structure, and was located on Valley Street
Morrison Machine Company and
Natchaug Silk Company
The Natchaug Silk Mill on North Street was built in 1881/1882 by Frederick Dwight Chaffee. The factory was later taken over by the Windham Silk Company and Brand Rex.
Morrison Machine Company and
Natchaug Silk Company
North & Valley Streets
"The Washburn Block" sat on the southwest corner of North and Valley. Until the building of the Town Hall, all Town of Windham public meetings were held here. It was, at times, occupied by a funeral parlor and the Masonic Order’s Temple. Photographer Hiram Fenn, who took hundreds of  Willimantic photos in the late 1800s and early 1900s, had a photography and framing studio there. 

Valley Street - looking west from Pearl Street -
The building on the left was built in 1897 as Willimantic’s second armory. Later it became a dance hall and then home of Watson’s Movers. The next three buildings housed McCarthy Brothers Plumbing and Heating, then the Park Central Hotel, and J.B. Carpenter Plumbing. The Trade School can be seen on the far right. 
This is a group of buildings that housed the Willimantic Welfare Bureau (later home to Watson’s Movers), the Women’s Christian temperance Union, the Park Central Hotel, and Carpenter’s auto radiator repair. Just about visible to the left of the tree is the Turner Silk Mill, later the Trade School.
From the left is the building owned and occuied by Watson’s Taxi and Watson Movers. The next building was occupied by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the First Spiritualist Society and tenants living above the two storefronts. The building on the right was the Park central Hotel. All these buildings were razed during the Redevelopment period.
 140-142 and 146 Valley Street  On the left is the building that had a double storefront and was home to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the First Society of Spiritualists. At one time it was used as an Armory for the CT National Guard. It was also used as a social club. On the right is the Park Central. These two buildings as well as one on the right of the Park central were built around 1890 by M. Eugene Lincoln (not the Lincoln Square Lincoln) who was one of the city's most prolific builders. Besides these three, he put up at least ten other buildings in the city.  Park Central Hotel 146 Valley StreetThe first mention of the Park Central Hotel that we could find came from a 1903 newspaper story. A fireman wrenched his back at a fire at the Hawthorn House and was “confined to his room at the Park Central Hotel”. In 1913, the hotel was sold by Mrs. Eliza Smith to Mrs. William Rose . To the right is the building that held J. B.
Carpenter’s Plumbing Co. and the W.G. Potter Oil Burner Co. They were built sometime around 1890 and by 1971 they were on the “Redevelopment” hit list.

Turner Silk Mill
This building on the corner of Bank and Valley Streets was built as the Turner Silk Mill and operated from 1888 to1917. After that several businesses were housed there. Then, from 1928 until 1956 it was the home of “The Trade School”.  It was demolished in 1970 
Turner Silk Mill has become the
"State Trade School"

The Latham and Crane Lumberyard which sat just north of where Bank Street ends at Valley Street.(The Trade School is in the background) It was accessed from Spring Street as well. Latham and Crane also worked as building contractors. The 1877 buildings were destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1922. Approximately fifty homes and three factories were endangered and burning debris floated as far as a half mile.
Saint Paul's was organized in 1882 and in 1883 the first St. Paul's Church building was erected at the present site. It was a gingerbread style church, which came in three sections from Central Village. During the turn of the century many Syrian people joined the church, and the little church was bulging at its seams. In 1912 the present church was built. "

The office and shop of the J.C. Boucher Lumberyard and building/contracting business at 237 Valley St., between Walnut and High Streets. J.C. Boucher was known for custom built homes, remodeling, alterations and also for cabinet making and millworking.

High and ValleyBeville PhotoThis is the intersection of Valley and High with the steeple of the First Congregational church prominent in the background. (the steeple blew down in the 1938 hurricane)  The steeples of Saint Mary’s Church (modified in 1955)  and pre-hurricane Saint Joseph’s church are to the left. Toward the right, the smokestack of Turner’s Silk Mill is visible along with the Fire Department’s bell tower, the Loomer Opera House and the Hooker Hotel.
High and ValleyLooking eastBeville Photo
Julian Beville also climbed the 200 foot high smokestack at Windham Mfg. Co. to take photos of Willimantic from the top of the stack.
High and ValleyBeville Photo
Notice that there were still houses on the south side of Valley Street between High and Windham streets, the rooftops of which are visible in the photo.

 The District 1 schoolhouse sat on the corner of Windham and Valley Sts. It was razed in preparation for the building of what would be called the Frederick R. Noble School.  

The Normal School
Opened in 1894

The rebuilt Normal School
became the Willimantic Teacher's College

This was "The Model School" and was built as an adjunct to the Willimantic Teacher's College. It replaced the original Model School which was destroyed by fire.

Redevelopment officially began at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 9, 1973. It began at Lincoln Square and proceeded North and East. Here are some photos from that time.  
The Windham Market Market - Southwest corner of Valley and Jackson Streets. It started out as Borodach's Meat Market in the 1920s and was usually referred to as Borodach's Market.

Corner of Jackson Street and
Valley Street Ext.
Prior to Redevelopment, Catholic Charities had moved into the building but prior to that it was the confectionary store owned by Joe and Louis Osso.

18 Valley Street

Valley St. Looking west from Jackson St.

Valley St. Looking west from Jackson St.
        Saint Mary's ChurchThis is a view of St. Mary's Church that will never be seen again. We're looking at the Church in 1970, between the houses that once stood on the major parcel.
Former silk mill on the southwest corner of Church and Valley Streets. This part of the building housed a sheet metal business owned by Willimantic Mayor Florimond J. Bergeron.       

As Redevelopment progresses, the Park Central remains standing but the three buildings to its right have been razed. The Park Central was the next to fall.

From Tom Beardsley's 1992  "Then and Now" series in "The Chronicle"
From Tom Beardsley's 1992 "Then and Now" series in "The Chronicle"
From Tom Beardsley's 1992  "Then and Now"
series in "The Chronicle"

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