Mill Record Barkhamsted

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Complex Name (Common)
Hitchcock Chair Factory
Complex Name (Historic)
  • Hitchcock Chair Factory
Address or Location
2 School Street, Riverton, Barkhamsted
County
Litchfield
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
What can you do at this mill?
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Hitchcock Chair Co. 1946-
  • Hitchcock Chair Factory 1825-1864
  • Raley Rubber Co. c.1919-c.1931
  • Stephens and Company 1864-c.1905

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

100 (1820s)

Historic Narrative

The career of Lambert Hitchcock represents a major transition in antebellum, non··textile manufacture in Connecticut. Trained as an apprentice (before 1814) and journeyman (1814-1818) in small furniture shops, Hitchcock brought entrepreneurship and large scale production to furniture manufacture. In 1818 he rented a shed and water power at a sawmill and began making unfinished, ready-to assemble batches of chair parts. He first sold to local stores and peddlers heading west and south. Within several years Hitchcock had hired a dozen workers, expanded to another building at the sawmill, and was shipping substantial lots of chair parts to Charleston, SC and other southern towns. Hitchcock employed nearly 100 woodworkers, finishers and rush-seat weavers in the 1820s, at the time one of the largest workforces in commercial manufacture in the state, and the largest in furniture production. In the 1830s and 1840s Hitchcock and his partners expanded into cabinet furniture production and operated retail stores near the factory and in Hartford. In 1864 Delos Stephens bought the factory; Stephens and Co., which made joiner's tools and ivory rules, lasted 40 years. The mill was then idle until 1946, when John T. Kenney bought and renovated it to house shops making reproduction Hitchcock chairs. The buildings, with extensive interior alterations, now house showrooms. (Roth) The mill is used for self storage as of 2016.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Roughly five (5) primary blocks.

Dates of Construction

1825, 1946-1948

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

In 1825 [Hitchcock] built, upstream from the sawmill [where he began operations], a 3-story, gable-roofed brick factory, 60' x 32' with bracketed eaves and a square cupola; hand-wrought, S-shaped wall anchors tie the floor beams into the walls. A 2-story, 36' x 30' extension to the east repeats the features of the main factory (except the cupola), as does the 2-story, 45' x 18' ell at the southwest corner. Kenney [in 1946] scrapped the turbine that Stephens had installed and demolished the wheelhouse. The only remnant of mechanical power is a shaft with pulley, which protrudes from the attic level of the mill. (Roth)

Exterior Material(s)

n/a

Structural System(s)

n/a

Roof Form

Roof Material

n/a

Power Source

Condition

Good, Fair, Deteriorated

Condition Notes

All portions of the building are in generally good condition.

Property Information

Specific Location

Between the Farmington River to the east, School Street to the west, and Rte 20 to the south.
Located in Riverton National Register Historic District (2007). See Sources below.

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

1.6

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

n/a

Date

n/a

Bibliography

  1. Roth, Matthew, et al, Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering & Industrial Sites (Washington DC: SIA, 1981).
  2. Sanborn Insurance Atlases.
  3. Riverton National Register Historic District (2007).
  4. National Park Service.
Representative View(s)Click on image to view full file


Photographer

n/a

Photography Date

n/a