Willimantic Linen Mill Complex (ArtSpace Windham)
ArtSpace Windham, a residential apartment building for artists, is located in a mill complex that was the largest in the world at the time of its completion in 1880. This building was part of the Willimantic Linen Company and the complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the American Thread Company, the firm that acquired Willimantic Linen in 1898. The first mill at this site was called Jillson Mills and was established in 1824 by brothers William, Seth, and Asa Jillson. Their mill grew into a true powerhouse, driving the local economy for decades and providing employment until the 1980s.
Backstory and Context
Over time, the mill grew into a large complex, featuring several factory buildings, warehouses, and worker housing. The company built the massive Mill No. 4 factory in 1880, which was the largest mill building in the world at the time. Mill No. 4 also set the standard for factory building as its lights were powered by electricity, belts and other mechanical equipment were placed in conduits in the floor, and it was one-story tall.
In 1898, as mentioned above, the American Thread Company corporation bought Willimantic Linen Company. Production increased even more as a result. The workforce was diverse throughout the company's lifespan—especially after 1925 when the company hired workers to replace those who went on strike—consisting of Italian, Polish, German, Estonian, Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Puerto Ricans immigrants.
Machado, Helen & O'Neill, Helen. "Fire Destroys Historic Mill at Former America Thread." Hartford Courant. June 11, 1995. https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1995-06-11-9506110232-story.html.
"The Mills of Willimantic, CT." The Mill Museum. Accessed February 3, 2019. http://www.millmuseum.org/exhibits/permanent-exhibits/the-mills.