Coventry in Tolland County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
Thomas H. Wood’s Silk Mill
In 1859 the mill was owned by the Tolland Bank from the foreclosure of John Boynton and it was sold to Daniel Green. By 1863 Mr. Green was making fine colored cotton batting, then cotton rope as well as operating the grist mill.
Thomas H. Wood was born in 1846, came to Coventry from Danvers, Massachusetts with his father and brother John. He was likely employed in one of the textile mills downstream. Mr. Wood operated the mill until his death in 1931, though the company he founded occupied the site until 1961.
Mr. Wood began, in 1888, making twisted silk fishing line of very high quality under the label “Silver Streak Fish Lines.”
The mill was sold to the Sutures Company in 1961, and they begin to make silk sutures for the medical community. That product continues to be made today although of a plastic material. The company changed its name to the Deknatel Company and then was sold to the Genzyme Corporation and then to the present Teleflex Corporation. An original grist stone sits near the office entrance.
The Penstock at the Thomas H. Wood’s Silk Mill
The Village of South Coventry as it is historically known, grew and prospered during the 19th century because of the abundant waterpower along Mill Brook. Mill Brook flows along a two-mile course from Lake Wamgumbaug to the Willimantic River, dropping a total of 250 feet along the way. The concentration of water mills that developed within this short distance resulted in South Coventry becoming one of the most vital small mill villages in New England.
In recognition of this significant industrial history and he historic and architectural resources of the village, on May 6, 1991, the South Coventry Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This Greek revival style hotel was built in 1822 by Solomon Bidwell on a one hundred forty acre track of land. The ell was added by Solomon's son, Lyman Bidwell, around 1850. The property descended to Lyman's son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Lydia Bidwell who operated the establishment until Charles's premature death in 1881 at age 26. During the mid-19th century the hotel also served as the South Coventry Post Office. A Ballroom on the third floor was said to have been a popular gathering place. The double porches were added around 1908. When the trolley started in 1909, the Bidwell House became a stop for the trolley line that ran between Willimantic and Lakeside Park at Lake Wamgumbaug.
By the 1880's most of the one hundred forty acres had been sold. In a 1911 A seven page hand written mortgage of the property the Bidwell House was listed as consisting of “2 acres, a 33 room hotel, barn, and garage, shed, hen coops, the right of using the two springs of water and a list of the entire contents of the hotel including salt & pepper shakers and chamber pots. When Lydia Bidwell Josselyn died in 1918, a judge determined the right descendants to be Charles Bidwell’s sisters. In 1920 the property was sold to Edward Navens by the estate of Charles Fitch and Mary Bidwell Clark. Thus ended the Bidwell family connection to this property.
Mr. Navens and his family operated the hotel for 16 years. They added a Pan-Am gas station and in 1933 leased part of the lower level to Frank Parker who opened a tavern. In 1937 Judd Fitch became the new owner. Subsequent tavern owners were Leo T. Flaherty in 1944 and Fred Flaherty in 1956. The property was sold in 1968 to T. Leo Flaherty and the tavern was converted to a Package Store. Since 1982 the property has changed hands four times and in the early 1980s, the hotel was converted to private apartments.
Location. 41° 46.104′ N, 72° 18.23′ W. Marker is in Coventry, Connecticut, in Tolland County. Marker is at the intersection of Monument Hill Road and Main Street (Connecticut Route 31), on the right when traveling east on Monument Hill Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Coventry CT 06238, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. South Coventry Village (within shouting distance of this marker); Warfield Pond (within shouting distance of this marker); E.A. Tracy Wool Extract and Shoddy Mill (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Tracy Shoddy Mill (about 300 feet away); The Washburn Mill & The Visitor’s Center (about 700 feet away); Veterans 1861-1865 (about 700 feet away); Captain Nathan Hale Monument (about 700 feet away); Nathan Hale Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Coventry.
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Credits. This page was last revised on November 10, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 10, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 53 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 10, 2019, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.