Mill Record Coventry

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Complex Name (Common)
National Silk Co. Inc.
Complex Name (Historic)
  • National Silk Co. Inc.
Address or Location
30 Mason Street, South Coventry, Coventry
County
Tolland
Historic Designation
Associated Mill Community
n/a
Historic Information

Companies Associated w/Complex

  • Bottum Silk Mill 1883-1901
  • James S. Morgan Silk Mill 1866-1883
  • John A. Dady Silk Mill 1901-1927
  • National Silk Co. 1927-1961

Use (Historic)

Largest Documented Workforce

150 ca. 1933

Historic Narrative

The former National Silk Company mill was originally established after James S. Morgan, a lifelong Coventry resident, purchased an existing saw mill and mill pond in 1866. The site had been used for milling operations since the early 1800s and at the time of Morgan’s acquisition it consisted of an octagonal wood-frame building that he converted for silk production and staffed with 29 hands. In 1879, Morgan increased the size of the factory three-fold by erecting a large rectangular building that encompassed the original mill. Around 1880, he partnered with A.D. Bottum, a silk manufacturer from Mansfield, Connecticut, and again increased both the size of the plant and its workforce, the latter to around 34 hands, half of whom were children. In 1883, Morgan sold the operation to Bottum, who again enlarged the plant. Bottum died in 1889, after which his wife Sarah assumed control of the mill. Sarah Bottum maintained the business until 1901, whereupon it was sold to John A. Dady. Dady converted the plant to electricity in 1924, and in 1927 it was sold to the newly formed National Silk Company. The National Silk Company was incorporated in 1928 and under its president and treasurer, J. LeRoy Schweyer, weathered the Great Depression and grew into the largest employer and taxpayer in Coventry. By the mid-1930s the company employed 150 hands manufacturing its Tioga brand yarn, which sold briskly through both retail and mail order channels. In 1935, the National Silk Company expanded operations after purchasing the former Kenyon Mill on Armstrong Road in Coventry. The firm’s local employment peaked around 300 during the late 1930s. In 1961 operations were consolidated in the Armstrong Road plant and the Mason Street factory was sold. The latter plant has subsequently been occupied by a variety of small businesses, among these being a shop operated by Ted Szeluga, which fabricated whale-shaped wooden clocks during the late 1970s.

Architectural Information

Number of Existing Buildings

Roughly six (6) primary blocks.

Dates of Construction

1879, ca. 1880, 1883, ca. 1924, ca. 1927, 1950-1966.

Architect

n/a

Builder

n/a

Building Type

Architectural Description

The former National Silk Company plant is comprised of six adjoining blocks located on the west side of Mason Street, roughly 400’ south of Mason Street’s intersection with Main Street (CT Route 31). The oldest portion of the plant is a two-story, 28’ x 114’ wood-fame block. This was erected encompassing a mid-19th c. structure in 1879, and then enlarged to its present size ca. 1880. It has a mix of clapboard and vinyl siding, both original double-hung and later hopper-style windows, and an overhanging front-facing gable roof. A two-story, 25’ x 76’ wood-frame ell adjoins its east elevation. This was erected 1883 and has a fieldstone foundation, vinyl siding, later multi-pane metal sash with hopper-style openings, and a shed roof. Multiple significant additions to the plant were completed during the 1920s. A one-story, 46’ x 18’ red brick boiler house was built adjoining the southern elevation of the 1879 block ca. 1924, and one- and two-story wood-frame additions were erected adjoining the east and west elevations of the earlier manufacturing blocks ca. 1927. The addition to the west side of the plant is a two-story block with an overall footprint of roughly 30’ x 114’, while the one- and two-story blocks on the eastern side measure 45’ x 38’ and 25’ x 76’, respectively. The ca. 1927 buildings all have vinyl siding, multi-pane metal sash with hopper-style openings, and flat roofs. Final additions to the plant were made between 1950 and 1965 when a two-story, 35’ x 61’ wood-frame block was erected at the northwest corner of the factory, and a one-story, 32’ x 41’ wood-frame garage was built adjoining the southeast corner of the plant. Both are similar in detail to the remainder of the mill.

Exterior Material(s)

Structural System(s)

Roof Form

Roof Material

Power Source

Condition

Fair

Condition Notes

The complex is in fair condition. A number of the exterior walls are in need of paint or minor repairs, however, overall, the plant is well maintained and appears sound.

Property Information

Specific Location

One legal parcel (30 Mason Street) totaling 1.0 acres located on the west side of Mason Street, roughly 400’ south of Mason Street’s intersection with Main Street (CT Route 31) and to the rear (west) of another former industrial plant.

Located in South Coventry Historic District (1991).
http://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/GetAsset?assetID=ca1e7c01-10ee-4c4e-a877-68b331552dfb

Adjacent To

Exterior Visible from Public Road?

Yes

Parcel ID / Assessor Record Link

Acreage

1.0

Use (Present)

Sources

Form Completed By

Lucas Karmazinas

Date

8/13/2015

Bibliography

  1. List of Connecticut Manufacturers, 1922, 1924, 1930, 1932.
  2. Directory of Connecticut State Manufacturers, 1936, 1939.
  3. Industrial Directory of Connecticut, 1947.
  4. Register of War Production Facilities in Connecticut, 1951.
  5. Map of Windham County; E.M. Woodford, 1855.
  6. Atlas of Windham County; O.W. Gray, 1869.
  7. Sanborn Map Company, 1924, 1948.
  8. A History of Windham County, Connecticut; Bayles, Richard M., ed., 1889.
  9. A Historic Sketch of Coventry, Connecticut; Peterson, Maude G., 1912.
  10. A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut; Lincoln, Allen B., 1920.
  11. Andrews, Gregory E. 1991. South Coventry Historic District National Register Nomination No. 91000482.
Representative View(s)Click on image to view full file



Photographer

Lucas Karmazinas

Photography Date

8/13/2015