Welcome to the Dugan Mill. In this exhibit room, we explore what it was like to work in the textile mills during the Industrial Revolution. This building once was part of the great, sprawling American Thread Company factory complex, which from 1898 to 1985 dominated Willimantic and inspired the nickname “Thread City.” This building was constructed in 1877 as a warehouse for the Thread Company’s predecessor, the Willimantic Linen Company, which had been founded in 1854. Compared to the Thread Company’s cavernous factory buildings across the street, this building is relatively small. The big factories ranged in size from 300 feet to 840 feet long, while this former warehouse is only 63 feet long and 24 feet wide. The factories had large windows on all sides, to provide light, while this building has windows along only two of its sides. Each factory room had only one kind of machine, but dozens – sometimes hundreds – of them. In this exhibit, we only have one of each machine. But even though this room does not look exactly like a factory, it does provide visitors the opportunity to encounter many of the machines – and the rough wooden floors, heavy beamed ceilings, and rugged brick and stone walls – found in the rooms where the thread was made. The large photographs mounted on the walls of this room show the interiors of factories, with their many machines.

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