Mill of the Month will be continued for 2014

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Mon., Feb. 17, 2014
Samuel Slater, an English mechanic who established the first successful factory in America in 1791. This year's Mill of the Month program will feature visits to many sites related to Slater. Contributed photos. - Contributed Photo

The Mill of the Month program, sponsored by the Windham Textile and History Museum, is back by popular demand for 2014. “We averaged about 12 to 20 participants last year, and some of the regulars had such fun we decided to keep going,” said Museum Education Director Bev York. “They talked me into it.” 

This year’s series will kick off on Saturday, Feb. 22, with “Meet the Dunhams and the Jillsons.” York will talk about two families of mill owners in 19th century Willimantic. Austin Dunham and his son were owners of the Willimantic Linen Co., which became American Thread. The three Jillson brothers were involved in many manufacturing endeavors locally. These manufacturers were no doubt inspired by the success of the Slater family, which will be examined later in the series. The Jillson brothers moved to Willimantic in 1824 to purchase water rights on the river. Their first factory was built on the site where the frog bridge is located today. “Meet the Dunhams and the Jillsons” will begin at 10 a.m. at the Windham Textile and History Museum, 411 Main St., in Willimantic.

This is the first program for 2014. Ten more programs at various mill sites will be held on the fourth Saturdays of every month, either at 10 a.m. or 4 p.m. Participants may attend one or several. Each program costs $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, students or museum members. For more information, call 860-456-2178.

This year’s program will include visiting mill sites related to Samuel Slater, an English mechanic, who established the first successful factory in America in 1791. “Our journeys to follow Slater and his family will take us to Pawtucket Rhode Island, as well as Putnam, Norwich, Griswold and Danielson,” said York. Other trips are planned to Coventry, Yantic, Plainfield and more.

Participants can purchase a passport that lists all of the mill tours. Tours are primarily walking tours of the exterior of mill sites, but some may include mill interiors, housing, mill reuse projects and guest historians and mill owners.

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