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Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District facts for kids

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Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District
Mill worker housing, Thompsonville, Connecticut.jpg
Mill worker housing
Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District is located in Connecticut
Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District
Location in Connecticut
Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District is located in the United States
Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District
Location in the United States
Location Roughly bounded by Lafayette St., Hartford Ave., Alden Ave., Pleasant, High, Spring, South and Prospect Sts., Enfield, Connecticut
Area 100 acres (40 ha)
Architectural style Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Colonial Revival
NRHP reference No. 94001382
Added to NRHP November 25, 1994

The Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills Historic District encompasses a company-built factory and residential area in the Thompsonville area of Enfield, Connecticut. In addition to the former factory buildings of the Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills, it includes more than 150 housing units built by the company between about 1830 and 1920. It is roughly bounded on the north by Lafayette Street and Alden Avenue, the east by Hartford Avenue and Lincoln Street, the south by High Street, and the west by River Street. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Description and history

The Bigelow-Hartford Carpet Mills were the largest employer in Enfield for many years, and one of the largest textile firms in the state. Founded in 1828 by Orrin Thompson on the banks of Freshwater Brook, the company became one of the nation's largest manufacturers of carpeting, employing more than 13,000 workers in Thompsonville at its height in the 1920s. The company's growth through the 19th century prompted an ongoing need for nearby affordable housing for its workers. The result is several generations of stylistically different housing, built densely in the blocks surrounding the main factory complex.

None of the earliest housing, a row of simple single-story cottages documented in drawings, built by Orrin Thompson survives. Early buildings tended to house either two or four families on two floors. Later construction expanded on these models, resulting in three-story tenements and row houses with as many as twelve units. The 1845 Cottage Green area was an unusual deviation from the largely grid-based layout the company used for its housing, with a series of single-family Gothic cottages around a common yard. This area may have been developed as a means to attract highly skilled craftsmen from England. The tenement-style housing found in the district was mainly built in the late 19th century; the housing of the early 20th century returned to the models of two and four families, and featured vernacular versions of popular architectural styles.

In addition to the mass of company housing, the district also includes the surviving early 20th-century factory buildings, which have for the most part been converted to residential use.

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