About This Location
In the quaint village of Broad Brook, nestled within the town of East Windsor, Connecticut, lies the ghostly yet intriguing Broad Brook Company Factory Complex. This assembly of stone and brick industrial buildings, constructed from the early 1840s to the mid-20th century, stands as a silent witness to the region’s once-thriving textile industry. The site, which occupies 10.6 acres and boasts about 213,000 square feet of floor space, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, highlighting its significance in Connecticut's industrial history.
At the heart of the complex are three large, five-story gable-roofed structures dating from 1842 to 1880, running parallel with Main Street. These grand edifices, now relics of a bygone era, were part of a woolen mill operational from around 1835 to 1954. The mill's strategic location was selected for its potential to harness water power from Broad Brook, a choice that marked the early days of industrialization in New England.
The Broad Brook Company's inception can be traced back to the early 19th century when the Phelps brothers established a textile mill here. Despite financial setbacks and ownership changes, the mill flourished, becoming a significant supplier of woolen goods to the Union Army during the Civil War. However, by the 1950s, the industry's shift to vinyl finishes in automobile upholstery led to the mill's decline.
After the mill's closure, the Hamilton Standard Division of United Technologies acquired the property in 1954, operating there until 1977. The subsequent years saw the factory buildings housing various industrial tenants, but today, more than half of this once-bustling complex stands vacant, a shadow of its former self.
Visitors to Broad Brook can still marvel at the imposing structures of the factory complex from a safe distance. The closest publicly accessible viewing point is from Broad Brook Pond Park. After parking there, a short walk down Depot Street leads to a sidewalk vantage point, offering a clear view of the abandoned buildings. These structures, with their aged brickwork and silent windows, evoke a sense of nostalgia for a time when the clatter of looms and the hum of machinery filled the air.
While the interiors of the factory remain off-limits due to safety concerns, the exterior alone tells a story of the industrial revolution, economic shifts, and the inevitable march of time. The Broad Brook Company Factory Complex stands as a poignant reminder of Connecticut's rich industrial heritage and the inevitable change that time brings to even the most enduring of human enterprises.