Stumbling Across the Cheney Silk Mills


The other day at work I was having a conversation with the gentleman who had interviewed me for my internship during the Fall career fair. As he was welcoming me to the company, he mentioned how he used to live in Manchester, CT when he first started with the company. He continued to tell me how the town became famous back in the late 1800’s from the Cheney Silk Mills.

In 1838, the Cheney Brother’s developed the Cheney Silks Mills. As the business prospered, it became the largest manufacturer of silk in the United States during the second industrial revolution. During that time the Cheney Brother’s not only built the mill buildings, but also constructed firehouses, gas companies, schools, and reservoirs. By 1920, 25 percent of the town’s population was employed by the Cheney Silk Mills. Unfortunately, the silk industry began to decline around the 1930’s (partly because of the Great Depression), and the Cheney Silk Mills were hit hard. The last operation, the Velvet Mill, closed in 1984.

As I was talking to my fellow coworker, he mentioned the location of the mills in Manchester, and it seemed all too familiar to me. Then it hit me, I live in one of the buildings that used to be part of the Cheney Silk Mills! After the late 1980’s, the old mills were renovated and transformed into apartment buildings; and I seem to be sitting in one now. I guess that would explain the brick walls, wooden ceilings, and overall depressing historical feel of this place. Oh, and I supposed it explains what this is doing displayed in the hallway of my apartment building!


I figured that these buildings were some sort of factory back in the day, but I didn’t imagine they would have so much history behind them. Not going to lie, it’s pretty cool living in a historical building such as this one. It has made me look at things different when I walk through the halls now. I guess that makes me feel a little better about living in this shithole. Not to mention that two of my friends came to visit me yesterday and told me they LOVED my apartment. I’m not really sure what they saw in it, but that – along with the Cheney Silk Mills – has made me appreciate this place a little more.


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