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Plainfield Woolen Company Mill


Four story adaptive reuse condominium building. The mill, built ca. 1901, was converted to residential, loft-style condominiums in the late 1980s.

The condos are located at 45 Main Street, Plainfield CT 06374.

History

The Plainfield Woolen Company Mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.

The Plainfield Woolen Company Mill is a large brick building occupying an eight-acre lot between the Moosup River and Central Village's Main Street. The structure is four stories high (three stories plus full basement story) and consists of a monitor-roofed main mill with its long axis running parallel to Main Street; an ell, extending from the main mill's west side, with a shallow-pitched roof; a one story shed-roofed boiler house attached to the ell; a tall circular-plan chimney; and a dye house.

The Plainfield Woolen Company mill is significant because of the important role it played in the historical development of Central Village as a textile manufacturing community. Built in 1901 at a time when Central Village's industrial base had atrophied, the mill revitalized the local economy by providing hundreds of jobs. For decades thereafter, the mill's several successive textile-firm owners were Central Village's largest employer; not until 1984 did the last occupant, a manufacturer of synthetic fabrics, cease operating the building for its original purpose. Despite more than eighty years of continuous use for textile production, the building retains most of its original historic fabric; alterations and additions are few, and in no way detract from its characteristic appearance. Architecturally, the mill is of interest primarily because of the use of the monitor roof to meet the special demands of woolen manufacture. The building's large size, brick construction, highly visible location, and unusual monitor-roof form make the Plainfield Woolen Company Mill a landmark in Central Village.

Textile manufacture in Central Village dated from 1827, but by the 1880s floods and competition from larger mills had caused an earlier factory on the site to flounder. Despite all attempts to make it profitable, such as scrapping the looms and concentrating on spinning, the mill rarely stayed in full production for more than a few months.

Thus when Plainfield Woolen Company bought the property in 1901 and began building a new mill, it was front-page news in the local paper, the Moosup Journal, which correctly predicted "Central Village seems bound to regain its prestige of former years (June 17, 1901)." Woolens and worsteds were high-value, labor-intensive products (going into men's suits and coats and other expensive garments) mostly made in small or medium-sized mills. Because of the heaviness and width (6 or 7') of the cloth and the greater complexity of the pattern looms on which it was woven, Plainfield Woolen employed mostly male operatives. They paid higher wages than was typical in the area's cotton mills, which depended on lower-paid female labor. Plainfield Woolen Company prospered and typically employed about 175 workers. In the boom years of the World War I period employment reached 300, making Plainfield Woolen one of about a half-dozen large woolen mills in the state.

Plainfield Woolen Company was formed by Plainfield manufacturers Edwin Milner and Charles Bragg in response to their ouster by the American Woolen Company, which had acquired the woolen mills in the nearby Moosup section of Plainfield as part of its attempt to consolidate the entire woolen industry. Plainfield Woolen remained in local hands for only a few years, however, and was subsequently owned by a series of regional textile interests. Most recently, the mill was owned by Hale Manufacturing, a maker of synthetics based in nearby Putnam.

  1. Bruce Clouette and Matthew Roth, Historic Resource Consultants, and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Plainfield Woolen Company Mill, Plainfield, CT, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Plainfield Woolen Company Mill Map

Street Names
Main Street

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