Threadcity Photo Gallery

Welcome to Willimantic (and vicinity)

<<Click on any photo to see larger version>>

In 1980, the Willimantic Common Council formed a special committee to explore possibilities of boosting the  town's image. John Lescoe, Mayor at that time, said he believed the city could enhance its image by erecting "Welcome to Willimantic" signs.
Signs were eventually put up on the RT 6 and 32
entrances to Willimantic.

The following photos were used over the years as "Picture of the Week" for "The Chronicle". They are not grouped by category - they are just a random assortment of pictures showing various people, places and activities in Willimantic and a few neighboring towns throughout the years.

Auto Show
These are exhibits at Willimantic’s first Auto Show, which was held in February, 1920 at the Pleasant Street Armory. Twenty local businesses had spaces there and exhibited automobiles, cycles and a huge range of accessories. The show itself was, as the “Willimantic Daily Chronicle” said, “an elaborate affair” and included military marches, local singers and orchestras. The Leonard Brothers Garage provided the three Reo automobiles in the picture; a touring car, a sedan and a roadster

Interior of the Laramee Company
This is the interior of the Laramee Company store which was located at 22 North Street. The Laramee Company was one of the first local businesses to install refrigerated cases for meats and other goods. The man with the boater hat was owner Pierre J. Laramee who later became Mayor of Willimantic.

ATCO Mill 6 Interior

This is the interior of ATCO’s Mill Number 6 just prior to the formal opening ceremonies in April, 1906. The ceremonies included a charity ball sponsored by the Thread Company Fire Brigade which was considered to be “the largest social affair ever in the Thread City”.

Unidentified Ragpicker

Julian Beville, who also climbed the 200 foot high smokestack at Windham Mfg. Co. to take photos of Willimantic from the top, took the picture above. It is of a still unidentified rag picker who worked for “Warner’s of Willimantic”. A note on the back of the picture says it could be a, “Mr. Neff where the school buses are parked”.  

Willimantic Lumber and Coal fire

On the morning of September 19, 1940, Bank Street  Headquarters received a phone call from a The first firefighters on the scene found flames shooting more than 100 feet in the air. Thousands gathered to watch
the fireman as they doused the flames. The intense heat damaged several surrounding buildings and blistered structures on the opposite side of Church Street.

Willimantic Lumber and Coal fire

Two men view the aftermath of the fire

Sussman's Garage

At the time last week’s photo was taken, the service station at 1125 Main Street was owned by Morris Sussman. Other businesses located there throughout the years include Ben’s Dependable Used Cars ,Sussman’s Super Service, Potters Oil Burners, Willimantic Auto Repair and Kelley’s.

Natchaug Silk Company

 North St. façade of the Natchaug Silk Company (in the 1950s, William Brand was located there). Col. J. Dwight Chaffee had the building erected in 1887 and by the time it was completed his business had grown so much that he also began taking over space in the adjoining Morrison Machine Company’s building on Valley St.

Jack Roans - 1940s

 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.

Susco Service Center during WWIIThe photo is of the Susco Service Center which was on Main Street. It was located next to the old City Garage which is where Tyler Square is today. It was owned, at the time, by Sussman's Oil and was also referred to as Sussman's Gas Station No. 2

Saint Joseph's Rectory

This dwelling dwelling on Jackson Street was originally built by T.J. Weeks in 1844. In 1873, after being owned by three other people, the house was sold to the Reverend Florimond deBruycker and became the original parochial residence for Saint Joseph’s Parish.


Helmold's Orchestra

 Helmold’s Orchestra was formed in 1900. After the breakup of the old Opera House Orchestra, the new orchestra was organized by C.C. Helmold to play at Loomer’s Opera House and it played there and at many other venues until 1917.  

Chronicle Printing Company

Machinery and workers at “The Chronicle” which, at that time, was located on Church Street.

Rec Park Entrance

This is the eastern entrance to Recreation Park. The American Thread Company’s wooden Mill Number 3 can be seen on the right.

Winter Street

 This view is looking North from the Willimantic River,  and shows the end of Winter Street. At the far right of the photo, buildings on Vermont Drive can be seen.

Bay State Drug Store

The interior of the drugstore that was located inside the Nathan Hale Hotel. It was run by the Bay State Drug Company and originally opened in the Loomer Opera House. In 1967, the pharmacy closed and was replaced by a cocktail lounge

The photo shows Valley Street looking East. The steeple of the Congregational Church is prominent and the steeples of Saint Mary’s Church and 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. .

William F. Lennon’s monument business.

 It was located for over 20 years at 18-20 Watson Street.

Smokestack of the Quidnick-Windham Manufacturing Company on Bridge Street.

It was on the southwest corner of their “L” shaped building. In the 1940s, the buildings were bought and used by Electro-Motive.


 Schoolhouse Lane vicinity.

 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.

Railroad Depot

The photo was taken in back of the Willimantic railroad station and shows workmen stringing Western Union telegraph lines. The poles were also used by the telephone company and for electric power lines that originated at the Willimantic Electric Light Company.

This photo shows the Carpenter and Fowler storefront. It was located to the right of Marshall Tilden’s business block along with the Willimantic Trust Company. Carpenter and Fowler later became Carpenter and Jordan and then Jordan Brothers Hardware

Commercial Block  

At the time of the photo, the ground floor stores were occupied by the Brick-Sullivan Shoe Company, Harry Rosen’s Department Store and G.H. Alford and Son Hardware Store

The Tilden Block
In 1870,a “Mr. Hamlin”  erected the two sto
ry building on Main St. shown in last week’s photo.  It contained four small stores. In 1887 it was purchased by Marshall Tilden who, in in 1894, completely remodeled it. Upon completion of the remodeling it was called, “the most ornamental four story block in the city”.

Cities Service station

The Dahl Oil Cities Service station was located at the c
orner of Main and Wilson Streets. The building at the extreme right is the old Ives Bros. Ice & Oil Company.


Original Shetucket River Bridge

Roy Doubleday and the “shop oxen” from the Smith-Winchester Manufacturing Company. The photo was taken in front of the original South Windham bridge over the Shetucket River.

Abraham Krug

Abraham Krug inside his first lunch cart which was located on Union Street where the railroad tracks went across to Main Street. Years later he moved to a location on Main Street between Watson Street and Arnold’s Lane. 

American Screw's Water Tower

The American Screw Company was located on West Main Street. The building was originally built for Pratt and Whitney’s Willimantic plant.  American Screw came to Willimantic in 1949. It was bought out by Textron and closed in 1962. The building was then used by several other industries over the years.

Elks Band.

The band was led by local legendary musician Charles Wheeler (kneeling, to the right of the drum).

Samuel Adams' Market

 He was a well known businessman in the City and his market was known especially for quality beef. The business was located on Main Street at the site of the present day United States Post Office.

 Letter Carriers

This photo was taken on July 23, 1914 in front of the old Post Office. Those pictured were the letter carriers and “mounted carriers” of that time: George K. Allen., Joseph Paulhus, ? Jackson, Clarence Palmer, John Smith. Clarence Barrows, Edward Syman, Anson Syman (mounted city carrier).

Memorial Park Dedication

 Willimantic Mayor Pierre J. Laramee speaks at the 1938 dedication ceremonies for Willimantic's "Veterans' Memorial Park". What was formerly known as "Windham Field" had been purchased by the city and had been converted to "Veterans’ Memorial Park" as part of a WPA project. The occasion was celebrated by veterans groups as far away as Worcester, Massachusetts.

Maverick Laundry’s new home

The Maverick Laundry started out in Willimantic’s Melony block in 1903 and moved to its new home at 1150 Main Street in 1940. The building later became home to Wile Motors and then Superior Electronics.

The O.T. Cafe

Willimantic Mayor Oscar O. Tanner (on the right wearing the porkpie hat)  stands outside his “O.T. Cafe” which was located at the corner of North and Main Streets. The Thread City Bottling Works carriage belonged to Willimantic entrepreneur Dennis O’Shea, a partner of Tanner’s and whose establishment was on Union Street.

Sam Haddad

Dry goods peddler Sam Haddad and his son are in front of 62-66 Church Street. The store on the left belonged to Hiram Fenn. He was not only an undertaker but also a photographer and picture frame maker. He took many of the vintage photos of Willimantic that were turned into postcards. The other store belonged to grocer Frank Blish.

640 Main Street

 In the 1890s, William Tiffany had a meat market there.  At the time of the photo, it was occupied by the Willimantic Beef Company.  After Willimantic Beef, Swift and Company took over the building. In the late 1950s, Willimantic Frozen Food was located there. In the 70s, the building was razed as part of the redevelopment project.

Sherman's Corner

 N.L. Sherman’s gas station and store was located, of course, at what we now know as Sherman’s Corner in Chaplin

Junction of Main Street and Columbia Avenue
This farmhouse sat at the junction of today’s Main Street and Columbia Avenue.  Part of the farm was included in the land taken for the New Willimantic Cemetery.

Shirshac's Garage

When this 1960s picture was taken, the service station at 1068 Main Street was operated by the Shirshac Brothers. It was originally part of the Ideal Tire Company and then became a car repair shop. By the fifties and into the mid sixties, the Shirshacs had ran the garage until they moved to Jackson Street.

Thread City Cyclers -a

This1902 photo showed the Thread City Cyclers after a bicycle trip to Phelps Crossing. Early “Chronicle” editor/publisher George Augustus Bartlett is standing  third from the left and wearing a winged T-shirt.

Thread City Cyclers -b

A list of those Thread City Cyclers members in the photo on the left.

Rosen’s Auto Supply Company

It was located at 628 Main Street. Many people may remember that in later years, the storefront was occupied by “City Lunch”.

Auto Show

 Willimantic’s first Auto Show, which was held in February, 1920 at the Pleasant Street Armory. Twenty local businesses had spaces there and exhibited automobiles, cycles and a huge range of accessories. The show itself was, as the “Willimantic Daily Chronicle” said, “an elaborate affair” and included military marches, local singers and orchestras. The Leonard Brothers Garage provided the three Reo automobiles in the picture; a touring car, a sedan and a roadster.

Tanner Block

It sat on the northeast corner of Main and North Streets. At the time of the photo it was home to Dorman’s Candy Shop, Miss Helen Battey’s tailor shop, D.C. Barrows Jewelry store, Sherman’s Fruit Store and James Murray’s Clothing store. The shops were located both on the Main Street and North Street sides.

Trade School Electrical Department
he photo shows  part of the Electrical and Drafting Departments which were on the third floor of the old State Trade School on the corner of Bank and Valley Streets.

Latham and Crane Lumberyard

It was located just north of where Bank Street ends at Valley Street and 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. Every piece of fire apparatus in the city responded as well as volunteers of the fire brigades of Holland Manufacturing and American Thread

Fedor Litryn

The last owner of the Strand Theater, watches as the Broad Street building was razed during Willimantic’s Redevelopment period.

Mechanics Brass Band

The "South Windham Brass Band, to the best of our knowledge, formed in the mid 1860s.

The Surprise Store

This was a clothing store that was on Jackson Street. It was owned by Samuel Eisenberg who is seen posing with his wife and an employee. The family of Dr. Girard, a prominent city physician and businessman, is on the second floor porch. Samuel’s son Benjamin took over the business and also opened another store, “Ben’s Toggery Shop”.

9-27-2018 Lincoln and Boss-North Stc.jpg

Main Street - possibly 1912

According to DMV records, the auto was registered to C.W. and E.J. Tryon. It is parked almost in front of 715 Main St. where they had a real estate office. The registration plate leads me to believe the picture was taken in 1912

Fire Engine on Main Street

American Legion Baseball Team

This is the 1950 American Legion Baseball team in back of Leonard Motor’s garage (the team’s sponsor) on Meadow Street. Maurice Leonard of Leonard Motors is standing at the rear right side. Top Row: F. O’Brien, Donovan, Frank Cutko, Don Chandler, Dick Battey,Roger Ouellette, Tom Sullivan, Rod O’Donald, Willie Rivers, Charlie Coriarty, Manager Shepaum, Maurice Leonard.

Bottom Row: Steve Vandis, Don Chanski, Adeeb Haddad, Al Saba, Batboy Mike Shepaum, Joe Rasicot, Carl Ellison...Hal Ridgeway, Pete Cronin.

Hilltop Hose Clambake

Members of the Willimantic Fire Department’s Hilltop Hose Company Three pose at their annual clambake at Ayer’s Grove. For several decades, clambakes were one of the most popular social events for Willimantic’s many clubs, societies and organizations

Drive for new YMCA Building

The Lincoln Furniture building clock marks the progress of the 1910 fund raising project for a new YMCA building. Mr. Edwin Bugbee had contributed five thousand dollars  and had promised another thousand dollars if the community could raise an additional five thousand dollars to match his contribution. In less than a year, more than seventeen thousand dollars had been donated toward the thirty thousand dollar goal. The new building was dedicated in February, 1913

Saint Mary's Church Cornerstone Blessing

The laying of the cornerstone of Saint Mary’s Church takes place on August 23, 1903. Several thousand people braved the intense heat of the day. Mass was celebrated and two sermons were preached (in French and English). After Mass, the cornerstone and foundation were blessed. It was said to be the largest celebration “of a religious character” ever held in the city.

Thread City Garage

TheThread City Garage  which was located off Main St. in back of where the Nathan Hale Hotel is. Parts of the brick walls are standing today and can be seen to the left of the present day firehouse. A spectacular fire in 1915 ruined that garage as well as the Natchaug Garage and the Johnson House Hotel. The Thread City Garage rebuilt and remained in business until sometime in the 1930s.

Political Baseball Game

Willimantic Mayor Pierre J. Laramee (left) and City Corporation Counsel Harry S. Gaucher. They were preparing for a baseball game during the annual Elks outing. Laramee captained the Democrat’s team and Gaucher, the Republican team. At the end of the game, both Laramee and Gaucher claimed victory. After a great deal of good natured yet party oriented bantering, it was still unclear as to who won the game!

 Lincoln and Boss Lumberyard.

The company started in 1882 and was the dominant lumber company in the city until the mid 1920s. One of their ads in 1890 stated, “The firm deals extensively in lumber, coal, lime,cement, plaster, hair and builders' materials in general, utilizing yards on North street, and opposite the depot. The premises are connected by telephone and the arrangements for the prompt and acccurate tilling of orders are first-class in every respect”.  

 First National Store on lower Main Street.

The original store was called Economy Grocery until the Economy chain was purchased by First National. After several moves, First National’s final Willimantic location was at 1202 Main Street until its closing in 1973. At the time of Willimantic’s redevelopment program, the building that this business finally left was considered as a possible location for some of the displaced businesses but the proposed rents would have been too high

 Bijou Theater.

The theater was opened in 1907 by Harry Gale and was located in the building  on the left side of Jordan Hardware. The 1916 fire that destroyed the Jordan building had started in the Bijou Theater and then traveled through second story windows into the Jordan building.

Hall and Bill Printing Company

This was on North St. Begun in 1847, it was one of the nation's oldest printing businesses. At the time of the photo, it was also the home of  “The Willimantic Journal”. The company printed many of the town and city’s annual reports as well as voting lists, yearbooks and brochures.


 Ayer Farm

 It was on Pleasant Street at the Lebanon town line. The farm was one of Willimantic’s largest suppliers of ice until April, 1934 when the five connected ice house buildings were destroyed by fire along with several tons of ice.

Astmann's Meat Market on Center Street

 Joseph Astmann was a sausage maker and ran the meat and grocery store. In the early 1920s, there were at least fifty of these small, neighborhood markets in Willimantic, eight of them on Union St

Photo courtesy of Steve Marrotte

Interior of Astmanns Meat Market.
Joseph Astmann was a sausage maker and ran the meat and grocery store. In the early 1920s, there were at least fifty of these small, neighborhood markets in Willimantic, eight of them on Union Street.

Al Saba at the Elks Fair

Al is doing doing what he did best, entertaining people. Al was named as “Mister Romantic Willimantic” in 1981 . He was an accomplished performer and over the years he worked as a singing waiter, performed at the hospital’s annual “Willim-Antics” Revues, sang with Saint Mary’s Church choir and entertained as a member of several local bands. He was probably best known for his High Street dry cleaning business with its motto of ,”You wear ‘em and mess ‘em, we’ll clean ‘em and press ‘em”. Al died in August, 1986.

St. Jean Baptist Society 1930 Convention

. Around six hundred people attended from around New England. The photo shows the members from Saint Mary’s Church. By the mid 1920s, the French-Canadian influence was growing in Willimantic. Many of the present and future town leaders were members. In the photo are Alexis Caisse, Sr, a well-known stone mason and businessman and his son, Alexis Caisse, Jr. who would become the Superintendent of Streets. Future mayors Pierre J. Laramee and Florimond J. Bergeron are in the photo along with the influential Bacon sisters.

Valley Street Extension

Looking toward Milk Street. Over the years, several businesses were located in that area. Many people will remember the Hillhouse and Taylor lumberyard and the M.Foster Banana Company.

 Adelard Monast’s Barber Shop.

At the time of the photo (app. 1910), it was located in the Hotel Hooker. By 1920, Monast had sold his shop to Thomas Enfield and Benoit Archambault. Monast then opened a grocery store on Valley Street. By 1930, the shop belonged entirely to Archambault.

The American Diner

 It  was originally owned by Steven Chontos (who also owned the Windham Diner and Windham Grill). It was sold to and run by Archie and Margaret Dubina until the 1950s. It was located on the corner of Windham and Main Streets.

Police Chief Grant Bombria

Police Chief Grant Bombria is sitting in his office at the Police Station which was then in the Town Hall. Bombria became Chief in 1940 after the retirement of Chief Thomas Grady. When Bombria retired in 1952, he had been on the force for thirty-five years. He was followed as Chief by the man standing on the right, Captain Frederick R. Laramie. 

Valley Street opposite Pearl Street - 1950s


Willimantic Carriage and Jobbing Shop
It was owned by a Mr. C.A. Hawkins and stood at the corner of Jackson and Ash St. It was sold in 1910 to William Main and became a woodworking plant. Ten people were employed there. It is still in existence although it has been moved a few blocks and, from what the owner tells me, the old signs can still be seen through the faded paint and the present owner has also found an old price list for buggy whips and wagon wheels

Commercial Block (661-677 Main St.) and
the Turner Building (679-685 Main St.).

Both were destroyed in the Saint Valentine’s Day fire of 1968. At the time the photo was taken, the buildings were occupied by the Grand Union Tea Company, Towne Photographers, Bowman’s Tailor Shop, Yonclas Confectionary, Danahey’s Barber Shop, Dondero’s Pool Room, Hunt’s Clothing Store and Giles Hardware


Lathrop House

The Lathrop house stood on the corner of Union and Washington (now Clark)  Streets. The first Roman Catholic Mass in Willimantic was celebrated there in 1847 by the Reverend John Brady of Middletown.  

Clark - Hurley Company

(left to right) Burt Trowbridge, Herbert Clark, James Hurley and Jay E. Grant are shown inside the Clark-Hurley Hardware Company. Clark sold his share to Grant and the company became the one we all knew – Hurley-Grant Hardware on the corner of Railroad and Main Streets.

Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes
Courtesy of Susan Haggerty

Willimantic Police Department and CD AuxiliariesThis 1952 photo shows members of the Willimantic Police Department. Police Chief Grant Bombria had appointed police auxiliaries and Civil Defense personnel in response to the nation’s new “Civil Defense Structure”. Among those in the photograph are Chief Bombria, First Selectman Ralph Crosthwaite, Stanley Harris, Calvin Harris, Jessie Owens, Jim Spurlock, Paul Pinkiewicz and Andre Marrotte.        
  <<Back to Galleries Index>>