Dating east hartford
Also part of the present Cheney Brothers, Inc., operation, these three mills rise three stories over a partially raised basement.
Each is rectangular shaped, about 300 feet long, crowned with a low pitched gable roof, distinguished by pairs of 16-over-16 sashes set in single segmentally arched openings.
Still standing and in relatively sound condition are 16 mills and several support buildings that date from 1886-1916.
Except for one gray-painted brick structure, all these buildings are red brick with green-painted window, door, and roof trim.
A boiler plant extends across the rear (east) facade of the four attached buildings, and nearby are several smaller support structures, including a coal bin large enough to accommodate two cars of the South Manchester railroad.
Except for the easternmost outbuilding, which is situated at 148 Forest Street, the entire spinning complex, which housed Pioneer Parachute during World War II, is owned at present by Northern Star Textile Corporation, of which Cheney Brothers, Inc. The firm leases out some space in the mill buildings but uses most of it for storage.
In recent years the South Manchester Railroad tracks have been removed and several railroad buildings demolished.
Cheney Hall, the schools and churches, and most of the post-1886 factories and the majority of the houses remain, however, and along with the Cheney mansions, they stand in striking testimony to both the Cheney Brothers' silk manufacturing enterprise and the mill village that it supported.
In 1867 Cheney Brothers erected Cheney Hall, a recreational and entertainment facility, for its operatives, and in 1869 the firm built 2-mile-long South Manchester Railroad which, in addition to providing a freight connection with the major rail lines, carried workers back and forth from North Manchester to the silk mills for a minimum fare.
Three years later the company built Taylor Reservoir to provide water for its factories and fire protection for both the mills and nearby houses, and in 1889 it organized the subsidiary South Manchester Water Company which erected more reservoirs and eventually furnished water for most of the community.
Later Cheney Brothers' Manchester Electric Company supplied electricity for the entire town.
These two structures, along with the mills at 60 Elm Street, contain several notable pieces of historic Cheney equipment either operable or still in actual use.
These include: skein dyers with cypress vats, patented between 18; two half-century-old Royle jacquard card punches; a Royle automatic card lacer patented in 1896-97; a Royle & Son card repeater of similar vintage; at least two Grant Reels manufactured by Atwood Machines of Stonington, Connecticut; and three Sipp-Eastwood silk warping machines made in Paterson, New Jersey Cheney Brothers, Inc., now weaves most of its velvet in South Carolina, but it operates 72 velvet looms and does all its dyeing here.