For the past 20 years, the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association has invited visitors into our homes to offer a glimpse into the lives of Victorian Era Americans. We do this each year because we believe our history is a treasure to be shared and remembered.
History books often forget the laborers who stood behind the rich and powerful mill owners and managers. One progressive leader, William E. Barrows, used the resources of the Willimantic Linen Co. to improve the lives of mill workers. In 1880, Barrows had the company build cottages along a winding tree lined neighborhood named The Oaks.
This year our guided tours and in-home visits will highlight the homes built for and rented to workers. Several of the current owners of the nearly 140-year-old cottages have graciously opened their doors for visitors to gain new insight into life in a textile mill town at the end of the 19th century.
Those Victorian cottages will then be compared with nearby opulent homes, the Gingerbread Gems built for mill executives, manufacturers and railroad officers.
Visitors will also learn the history of three of Willimantic’s bridges on a gentle ½ hour walking tour of the Garden on the Bridge, Thread City Crossing (aka. the Frog Bridge) and the historic Footbridge, each unique to our town.
Guided Trolley tours will showcase our National Register Historic Districts of Downtown Willimantic and Prospect Hill, which is one of the best concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, with over 600 intact buildings from the period of 1880-1914.
On the day of the home tours, ticket holders will be given a map of the homes they may visit, a schedule of guided walks and a schedule of trolley rides. All attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Home Tour information and tickets are available here >
Tickets will be available at the Windham Senior Center (47 Crescent St) and Heritage State Park (440 Main St) beginning at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 21