Mill Record Canton

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Complex Name (Common)
Collins Co.
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Collins Co.
Address or Location
10 Depot Street, Collinsville, Canton
County
Hartford
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
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Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Collins Company 1826-1966
  • Collins Edge Tool Works

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

1000 c.1910

Historic Narrative

see Collinsville Historic District nomination form for additional info http://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/nrhp/text/76001994.pdf The edge tool works begun in 1826 by Samuel Collins, David Collins and William Wells became one of Connecticut's most famous, successful and influential manufacturing firms. Under E. K. Root, superintendent from 1832 to 1849, Collins Co. developed machine-based metal-forming processes which, along with a highly elaborated division of labor, achieved huge levels of output. Edge tool production did not require precision tolerances, but when Root went on to serve as superintendent at Colt Armory (separate entry), he supervised a merger of forming processes with the precision die-making and machine building capabilities of Yankee armory practice. The resulting technique of precision die-forming constituted a key element in the mechanization of production in innumerable industries, from builder's hardware to automobiles. By 1860 the Collins Co. workforce numbered some 350 men and boys and production exceeded 490,000 axes, machetes, mattocks and picks. Collins Co. made bayonets during the Civil War and in the 1860s introduced cast-steel plowshares. The 1870 workforce of 650 people turned out some 615,000 implements. At the height of operations, in the early 20th century, Collins Co. employed nearly 1,000 men. The village of Collinsville came to include some 195 dwellings owned by the firm as well as company-built stores and community buildings. Collins Co. closed in 1967. The present owner of the complex occupies some space in the dozens of buildings and rents other portions. Extant Collins machinery includes a c.1910 ‘bulldozer,’ a horizontal press that formed the eyes in axe-heads. Also here are many machines from the C. P. Bradway Machine Works of West Stafford, CT: a vertical boring mill, a shafting lathe and several smaller lathes, among others. This equipment and many turbines manufactured by Bradway were purchased and moved here when Bradway closed in the mid-1970s. (Roth)

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

At least twenty (20) blocks.

Dates of Construction

1846, c.1850, 1862, 1867, 1904

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

The oldest standing structure in the millyard is a 3-story 1846 factory, 136' x 55' with gable roof and walls of random ashlar masonry. Among other early factories that remain are the c.1850 brick building, 157' x 34' with slate-covered gable roof and the 1862 brick forge shop, 1 1/2-story and 247' x 54' with monitor roof. Arrayed along the forebay at the north end of the yard are 2-story and 3-story frame factories, one built in 1867 (187' x 42') and two built in 1904 (120' x 45' and 91' x 43'). These last two structures replaced the original Collins shops, including the grist mill in which the enterprise began. The water power system features two dams and a complex of open and below-ground races. The main dam was rebuilt in 1870; it is 26' high and made of stone blocks. In 1912-13 the company built an 18'-high concrete dam on the Farmington River about one-half mile below the plant. The first turbines were installed in the late 1860s, but none of these survive. There is, however, a c.1890 Holyoke Machine Co. single-runner turbine, in place and operating with 1915 Lombard governor. Two c.1920 Allis-Chalmers single-runner turbines (96in diameter) were used to generate electricity for power and light in the factories; the turbines are in place and under rehabilitation but the original electrical equipment is gone. (Roth)

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

n/a

Roof Form

Roof Material

n/a

Power Source

Condition

n/a

Condition Notes

n/a

Property Information

Specific Location

One 19.24 acre parcel south of Bridge Street (Rte 179) in between the Farmington River and Depot Street

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

19.24

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

n/a

Date

n/a

Bibliography

  1. Roth, Matthew, et al, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington DC: SIA, 1981).
  2. Paine, Carole Anstress. 1976. Collinsville Historic District National Register Nomination No. 76001994. National Park Service.
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Photographer

n/a

Photography Date

n/a