Thread City Collar Company – Circa 1902
Educators won’t want to miss the “Thread City Collar Company” home. Born and raised in Willimantic, the owners of this house have spearheaded several grant-funded projects integrating local history with sixth grade curriculum. Come meet some of their students who will display their curriculum projects. Willimantic memorabilia abounds in this Victorian cottage.
Although the owners bought this charming Victorian Cottage in the year of our country’s bicentennial, they were unaware of its historical significance. Reference to the property dates to the late 1800’s, but it is difficult to find the exact date in which it was built.
The property was first owned by Calvin Tiffany, a baker who worked at 38 North Street. He also operated the Thread City Collar Company when men wore celluloid collars, many currently on display. In 1916, the city directory lists this property as the Thread City Collar Company. Directories during this time also have the company advertised on their covers.
The house was later sold to Fred Mott and George Moon who operated there until 1929, when the house was sold to J. Zalmon S. Hunt of New York. Mr. Hunt had came here in 1929 to teach history at Windham High School, now the former Kramer Middle School ,where the present owners both taught. Mr. Hunt removed the sewing machines and hired Homer Hawkins, a local carpenter, for additional renovations. It should be noted that the windows, cypress moldings, hinges, doors and knobs are original to the house. The side porch and sun porch were added.
Mr. Hunt lived in the house until 1957, when he switched houses with Mrs. Hulda Hendry of 196 Church Street (The current MacDonald home). Mrs. Hendry’s husband, Dr. William Hendry, who practiced at 754 Main Street, had died and she wanted a smaller home. Mr. Hunt needed larger quarters to accommodate his many antiques, some of which he had recently inherited from an aunt. After Mrs. Hendry’s death, the house remained vacant for many years until it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jones. They lived here until 1976, when the Youngs acquired the property.
Local history is abundantly in evidence everywhere. Any local resident will have a field day enjoying artifacts of a bygone era displayed in wood cabinets and shelves beautifully crafted by the owner’s father. The focus of the memorabilia collection is primarily on Willimantic businesses which are no longer here. Their clever and varied methods of display throughout the two stories are certainly original. Bottles, yardsticks, thread spools, calendars, all herald the once-flourishing area companies which no longer exist ,such as Electro-Motive, Willimantic Trust, Willimantic Lumber & Coal, & Wilson Drug. In a more international vein, visitors will appreciate the extensive pottery collection which reflects the owner’s Polish heritage and includes many items purchased in Poland.
It is no surprise to find the namesake items much in evidence at their former production site. What is surprising is that dozens of boxes of originals have recently surfaced and that the owners are trying to think of creative ways to display them.