The former Hotchkiss Brothers lumber factory is located on the east side of the Naugatuck River, purportedly on the site of the eighteenth century Wilson grist mill. Charles Hotchkiss (1811-1897), a native of Prospect, CT, had moved to Torrington in 1841 and built a saw mill in what is now the Drakeville section of Torrington to the northwest. He sold that mill and in 1857, with his son Edward, founded C. Hotchkiss and Son, acquiring the Water Street property and water rights from the Connecticut Soapstone Company. In 1867, his son Edward also joined the family business which became C. Hotchkiss and Sons. When Charles retired in 1880, the firm became known as Hotchkiss Brothers Co. Original activities were carpentering and building. Over time, both the company and the facility expanded, and by 1897 activities included scroll, jig and band sawing; planing; turning; cabinet making; door and window construction; finish details; retail and wholesale lumber, shingles, lath, etc. The firm also sold builder supplies such as paint, glass, masonry and hardware. Hotchkiss Brothers had privileges to store lumber on the opposite shore of the Naugatuck River, and owned a parcel one block north along Pearl Street with a rail siding and access to the NY NH and Hartford Railroad by 1897. In 1891, the wood working facility was located directly on the river, adjacent to the dam, and a number of lumber sheds occupied the rest of the parcel. Water and steam power were used, and a fan system carried wood shavings and dust from the mill to the boiler room for fuel. By 1897, the facility had grown to include a variety of wood and brick buildings housing three drying kilns, steam rooms, sawing and planning mills, door and sash manufacturing, and lumber storage sheds, and was powered by electricity. Hotchkiss Brothers and Co. was led by members of the Hotchkiss family through 1922; the firm remained at the site until it closed in 1990. The construction portion of the business was taken over by the Torrington Building Company in 1901.
Five (5) primary blocks.
1895, 1906, c.1924
The extant buildings of the complex date from the mid-1880s to the mid-1920s. The facade along Water Street follows the curve of the road and is made up of four separate two- and three-story buildings (the topography drops to the rear so that the buildings all have an open lower level). The two southernmost facades are brick buildings with cast iron store fronts and a central access arch to the interior of the complex and date to c.1924; the three-story structure immediately north is also brick. The northernmost facade belongs to the 1895 two-story wood-frame loft building originally occupied by trim, carpentry, sawing, planing and glazing operations; this building has been sheathed in corrugated metal and has partially collapsed to the rear. A modern sawdust tower stands at the rear of the facility. At the southernmost end of the property, set back from Water street, is the 1906 brick office building. (The brick commercial building at 229 Water Street shares a party wall with the Hotchkiss factory. The four bays follow the curve of the intersection between Water and Church Street.)
Good, Fair, Deteriorated
The 1895 wood frame building has collapsed at the rear and is open to the elements.
One 3.06 acre parcel between Church Street to the north, Water Street to the east and the Naugatuck River to the west (a multi-unit storefront at the northeast corner of Water and Church Streets is not part of the parcel).
Located in the Water Street National Register Historic District (2002).