The second floor of the Mill Museum’s main building recreates the components of an 1890s textile mill community. In the Industrial Era, Thread Mill Square was the vibrant heart of Willimantic, Connecticut’s fabled Thread City, the home of almost a dozen textile factories. Factory buildings lined one side of the Square, while the other side was filled with storefronts, mansions, and mill worker tenements. A 19th-century “walking city,” no part of Willimantic was more than a mile — a 20-minute walk — from the Square. In the Museum, our recreated Thread Mill Square is surrounded by eight exhibit rooms: the Mill Workers’ Row House kitchen, the Mill Workers’ Row house bedroom, the Mill Manager’s Mansion dining room and parlor, the Mill Manager’s Mansion bedroom, the Mill Manager’s Mansion laundry room, the Company Office, the Brooke Shannon Sewing Machine Exhibit Room, and the Peggy Church Weaving Studio. The central room — Thread Mill Square — ties the others together. Here you will see the outdoor water pump for the Mill Workers’ Row House, a collection preindustrial textile tools and machinery (including several spinning wheels of different types, as well as hetchels like the one pictured above), a 19th-century sleigh, historical wall maps, and other artifacts. The staircase leading from Thread Mill Square up to the third floor holds the Museum’s Stairwell Art Gallery, featuring the display, “Art of a Mill Town.”

Virtual Tour

For a virtual tour of Thread Mill Square, the Mill Workers’ Row House, and the Mill manager’s Mansion designed for elementary school students, click here.

Photographs of churches illustrate the cultural diversity of Connecticut's mill cities. People from more than 26 ethnic groups came to Willimantic in search of jobs and opportunity.
Willimantic's Union Station lay only a few blocks west of Thread Mill Square. Railroads were vital to Willimantic and other Connecticut mill cities. Trains hauled in raw cotton and coal, and carried out finished thread and cloth.
The Museum's Stairwell Art Gallery, on the staircase leading from the second to the third floor, features the exhibit, "Art of a Mill Town."
Thread Mill Square also has an exhibit of preindustrial textile tools and machines, including this flax wheel, also called a Saxon or Irish wheel. There are alsogreat wheels, also called walking wheels, hetchels, boat shuttles, click reels, and more.