Threadcity Photo Gallery


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Hal White Orchestra
From the 1920s until the early 40s, marching bands and dance bands provided much of the music for all types of Willimantic events. The “Al-Pierre Tabarin” on Valley Street was one of Eastern Connecticut’s premier dance spots. Hal White had studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and put this band together in the early 1930s. Local musicians included Kerman Lavigne (tenor sax), Clarence Sylvester (banjo), Bill and Ray Buckingham (trumpets), Roy Grover (drums),Lester Carter (piano), Rodney Clune (alto sax), and Hal White (violin and sax)


Willimantic's Finest Willimantic's Finest are pictured here in this 1892 photograph, posing outside the old police station on the west side of Church street. The building in the rear was built by the Natchaug Silk Company in 1889, and fronted onto North Street. The police station was removed to the town hall in 1894, but this structure continued to be used as a lock up when the cells at the town hall were full.

Thread City Cyclers
This is a photo of the "Thread City Cyclers". They are pictured outside the Tilden Block. The Cyclers were very active in early Willimantic social life and had a meeting room in the Tilden Block. The Tilden Block was sold to the Jordan's and was later destroyed by fire.
Primary Educators trying out a teaching technique.This is a group of students at the Normal School. They are celebrating "The Coming of Spring". The picture is from the 1921-1922 Normal School catalog.The 1914 issue of "Primary Education" devoted several pages to methods of teaching children about Spring. There were several photos showing ideas for the teaching process.

Letter Carriers in front of Post Office.The 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. Pictured, left to right, are :George K. Allen., Joseph Paulhus, ?? Jackson, Clarence Palmer, John Smith. Clarence Barrows, Edward Syman, Anson Syman (mounted city carrier). Not in picture : Dwight Ide, George Arnold.

The Knights of Columbus Boys BandThe Knights of Columbus Boys Band stands in front of the north door of Natchaug School. . It was organized in 1917 by Charles Wheeler and played at Willimantic events until the early 1930s. They are in front of the north door of Natchaug School. This band started out as "The American Boy's Band" and was part of a local Boy Scout Troop. When the troop lost its charter, Wheeler was able to get a new sponsor - the Knights of Columbus. Years later, the band became known as "The Thread City Cadets.

Loomer's Opera HouseThis  photo was taken inside the Loomer's Opera House. It would be wonderful if someone could identify the event as well.

Leading Citizens Picnic - July 16, 1890Among the men identified are :Arthur Bill (General Manager of Hall and Bill Printing Co.) , James Ross (the agent for Eagleville Mills) , Oscar Tanner (tavern owner and soon-to-be Willimantic mayor), Charles Boss (owner of Church St. lumberyard), Charles Leonard (chief engineer of the Fire Department) , Jim Reed , Jim Small (hotel owner) , Eugene Boss (agent for Willimantic Linen/ATCO).
Picnic - July 16, 1890 - Near Eaton's Ice PondSame group - different pose. Others attending were : Charles Gates (agent for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad) , E. Frank Bugbee (lawyer and prosecuting attorney) , D.A. Lyman (insurance agent and judge of the Police Court) , James M. Smith Windham First Selectman), George Bartlett (Willimantic Chronicle), Charles Holbrook, Fred Vinton, Charles Daniels, George Prouty and Charles Dimock.

Thread City Cyclers Picnic
This 1902 photo shows 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.

The Odell Chapman Continental Drum Corps“Chronicle” reader Bob Castillo correctly identified this photo as the Thread City Continentals and their leader, Mr. Odell Chapman who was a Drummer, Drum Major, and Master Drum Builder. Every drum in that photograph taken in front of the Town Hall was built by Mr. Chapman (front, center center with all the medals). Note all the trophies on the ground in front of the corps. They were strong competitors and obviously very proficient at their art.

Hilltop Hose - Willimantic Fire DepartmentCompany Three - the "Hilltoppers"

The Willimantic Baseball Association DirectorsThese are the directors of the Willimantic Baseball Association which was formed in 1901 : Danny P. Dunn, L.B. Lincoln, E.S. Wyatt, A.L. Griswold, Oscar O. Tanner, C.H. Dimmick, A.F. McQuillan, F.A. Hathaway and E.J. Gilligan. The association fenced in the newly leased Windham Field, built a large grandstand and bleachers and games began to be held. Windham Field, in later years, became Memorial Park.

Line Work CrewThis is line work crew from the Willimantic office of the telephone company.

Normal School - The 22 Club “The 22 Club” was one of the organizations for students at the Normal School. It was founded by the class of ’22 and its purpose was "to encourage an understanding attitude toward the theater...and to encourage the use of drama in community recreation”

Knights of Columbus. April 24, 1921 The photo shows a group in front of the Town Hall following a Knights of Columbus initiation/degree ceremony on April 24, 1921. Second from the right in the third row is future Willimantic Mayor Pierre J. Laramee. The significance of the goat is unclear although old K of C literature here and there contains references to "riding the goat".

ATCO's Mill Number Six Championship Baseball TeamATCO Mill #6 Championship Baseball Team in 1913. We think the man in the center, holding the trophy, is Mr. Follett, the manager. “Buddy” Follett is the mascot.

Willimantic Rod and Gun Club
Members of the Willimantic Rod and Gun Club gather outside their clubhouse and range which were located at 347 High Street (where Windham High is located today). The club was founded in the late 1800s and remained active until 1910. A new Willimantic Rod and Gun Club was formed in 1929 and used the National Guard rfile range on North Windham Road.

WHS 1908 Baseball Team On June 22, 1908 the 1908 Windham High School baseball team headed to the Connecticut High School Baseball Championship at Yale Field. Two hundred Windham fans also went to New Haven. Unfortunately, the team lost to Hartford Public High School

WHS 1908 Baseball Team Yale Field - 1908
Later in the day......

Helmold's OrchestraAfter the breakup of the old Opera House Orchestra, a new orchestra was organized in 1900 by C.C. Helmold to play at Loomer’s Opera House and it played there until 1917
Hope Valley BandThis is a photo of the Hope Valley Band playing in March, 1970 at Purple Heart, a social center in Willimantic. From left to right, Ralph Cabit-guitar , Dick Theriault-singer, John Boudreau-drums, Dave Dinse-guitar, Ray Macht-bass. Photo courtesy of Ralph Cabit.

The Fabulous Sonics

The Destructions

Garde Florimond
“Garde Florimond” was a paramilitary organization associated with the Franco-American Club. A newspaper article called it “Willimantic’s crack French organization” – a well deserved compliment since the Garde had, on many occasions, shown its proficiency in close order drills. .The gentleman on the front right is future Willimantic Mayor Pierre J. Laramee.

American Thread Workers

The Willimantic Christian Endeavor UnionMembers of the Willimantic Christian Endeavor Union are gathered at the old Post Office. The local chapter started in the late 1880s with the goal of developing its members into future religious and civic leaders. The April, 1929 statewide convention was held in Willimantic with over 500 young people in attendance. During its early years in town, it became a force in getting town officials and the police department to regulate what type of amusements were offered at the Willimantic Fair.

Willi PD 1930-31Last week’s photo showed members of the Willimantic Police Dept. in 1930. We believe Chief Walter King is front and center and that Captain Killourey is on the far right. The back of the photo has this information: 1st Row Leahy, Marrotte, Grady, Piche, King, McLean 2nd Row: Hurley, LaChappelle, Meikle, Laramie, Killourey Back Row: Lutton, Burchnall, ?, Dawson.

Holland Mill WorkersHere is a group of workers at the Holland Mills on Church and Valley Streets.
The Venerables"The Venerables". The criteria for joining the group was that a person needed to be at least 70 years of age. “The Venerable Club” was begun by hotelier Seth C. Hooker. The first meeting was held in June, 1902 and the group continued to meet on a yearly basis for about 20 years. The picture, we think, is of the 1903 gathering.

Hal White and his AristocratsHal White had studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music and put this band together in the early 1930s. Local musicians included Kerman Lavigne (tenor sax), Clarence Sylvester (banjo), Bill and Ray Buckingham (trumpets), Roy Grover (drums),Lester Carter (piano), Rodney Clune (alto sax), and Hal White (violin and sax). The photo was taken at the Capitol Theater.

1925 graduates of Saint Joseph’s Hospital Training SchoolThese are the 1925 graduates of Saint Joseph’s Hospital Training School. The hospital had a two year, three month training program. The grads from Willimantic are Mary McKenna on the far left and Mary Moriarty on the far right. The hospital served the community from 1907-1933

Four members of "Mattie and the Lads" OrchestraLeo Dion, Ozzie Beller, Ray “Sy” Sypher and Ralph Williams were members of the popular Mattie Mattison Orchestra (also known as Mattie and the Lads). They practiced at the “Al-Pierre Tabarin” on Valley Street and played there on Friday nights. By the late 30s, the “Al-Pierre” was considered to be one of the finest dance halls in Eastern Connecticut.

Mill Workers

American Legion Band
The  American Legion Post 19 Band. In 1931 the Corps won the championship prize for drilling ability and musical performance in the statewide American Legion drum corps competition. Fourth from the left in the front row is Ernest Liberty, former owner of Liberty Restaurant. On the far right of the front row is his brother-in-law George Robinson who worked in the Town Hall.

District 1 School  students
(Windham Street School - 1901)

Police, Auxiliary Police and Civil Defense team gather with Chief Grant Bombria in the early 1950s

Thread City Croakers

Thread City Croakettes

Thread City Croakettes

Thread City Four

American Legion

The Mattie Mattison Orchestra

The Eagles
Photo courtesy of Mickey Seretny


Photo courtesy of Chuck Straub

Garde Sacred Heart
photo courtesy of Butch Ives

Garde Sacred Heart in 1925
photo courtesy of Butch Ives

Spanish American War Veterans

1865 Photo of Southern New England Telephone Company work gang - in Willimantic to install utility poles

Elks Band.

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

 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).

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.

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.
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.
Photo courtesy of Bill Sayers

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