Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association WVNA Newsletter Archive

2019 Victorian Willimantic Home Tours

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The Oaks Neighborhood has significance to the history of Willimantic.

Victorian Willimantic Home Tours

When William E. Barrows was General Manager of the Willimantic Linen Company, he championed progressive ideas, popular among some industrialists at the end of the nineteenth century. We will visit cottages in the “Oaks,” which were built in 1880 to attract skilled workers such as loom fixers, mechanics, and trades workers and, to a certain extent, to diffuse potential industrial unrest. Rents were set at equivalent to 12.5% of a worker's wages at that time. There are four styles of houses, no two of similar style placed next to each other. In addition a school was built, a library established, a park was created.

"Mr. Barrows has a fixed idea that by placing people among pleasant and beautiful surroundings, they will become more careful, cleanly, tasteful, and intelligent and therefore, as he is never tired of insisting, more valuable to their employers."

Just around the corner are the famous Gingerbread Gems of the mill managers. Walking tours will guide visitors through that neighborhood, and ticketholders may enter mansions. Tours of the adjacent Garden on the Bridge and nearby footbridge will complete the story of this historic area of Willimantic.

Ticketholders will also be treated to a trolley tour showcasing the mills, historic downtown Willimantic, mansions, bridges and the Prospect Hill Historic District. Prospect Hill features over 600 buildings which are intact from the Victorian period of 1880-1914. This is one of the best collections of Victorian architecture in the country.

(Seats on the trolley may be sold to the general public, on a first-come, availability basis)

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