Friday, June 5, 2015

Laurel City

Winsted is a city located within the town of Winchester, much like Willimantic is a city within Windham and Groton is a city within Groton.

If you live in Connecticut long enough you'll get used to such things, but the first time you discover one of these little cities wearing a town like an overcoat, your mind will be blown.

I remember when I first drove through Winsted. It was perhaps seven years ago, shortly after I moved back to Connecticut, and I was perplexed by what I thought was a singular (and uniquely weird) municipal and geographical arrangement.

But that's not what I remember most about my first impression of Winsted. What struck me initially was the unusually wide main street, not the norm for a Connecticut town settled in the mid-18th century. As it turned out, the street had not originally been laid out in such an open, almost Midwestern manner; it was widened to four lanes after the devastating floods of 1955 wiped away a great swath of downtown. Then I noticed the old mill buildings along the Mad River. (Is there a better-named river anywhere in the country? The world?) Here they made scythes, and hosiery, and clocks - a typical non-sequitur of a shopping list from Connecticut's manufacturing glory days.

Today in Winsted, as in other Connecticut cities, people are making - or trying to make - good use of those old brick mills and factories. There is still a long way to go, but I hope their efforts succeed. There's so much potential in that wide main street, the proud buildings that line it, and the little river - calm, for now - that runs alongside.

1 comment:

  1. The factory buildings in these photos, which are located along the Mad River, have not yet been renovated. However, If you take a ride up Route 8 north toward the Mass. line, along the Still River side of town you will see that the old factories have taken on new life there. Check out the Whiting Mills artisans' studios in the old Winsted Hosiery building and and the apartments in the old Clock Shop building. They are wonderful examples of reclamation of old and unused buildings.



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