Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum opens the door onto the Brass City’s industrial heyday. Called “one of the most indispensable teaching environments in Connecticut,” the history exhibit makes the era come alive through words, pictures and interactive displays. Also within the museum’s walls is the Waterbury Button Museum, a display of 15,000 buttons that marks the first metalworking industry the colonies took away from England.
Made in Connecticut
Manufacturing prowess has always been a part of Connecticut’s story. From one end of the state to the other, in factories, houses and commercial centers, are telling signs of this fascinating epoch. This Getaway covers a few key pieces of the tapestry.
With an eye on the time, make your way to Bristol, where the American Clock & Watch Museum holds forth with an amazing display of over 5,500 clocks and watches, one of the largest in the world. Bristol was a major manufacturing center for timepieces, and this collection does justice to that legacy, with pieces that will dazzle with their beauty, functionality and strangeness. Next, head east to spend the night.
After breakfast, head for the Windham Textile & History Museum, located in the former headquarters of the American Thread Company of Willimantic. The museum presents the history of textiles and the textile industry and how they shaped the lives of workers, craftspeople and consumers. Permanent exhibits include a Worker’s House, a Mill Manager’s House, a Company Office and a Mill Machinery Floor, all from around 100 years ago.
What were Connecticut hands capable of producing? What was the culmination of the state’s manufacturing epoch? Many would say the construction of Nautilus, America’s first nuclear-powered submarine, launched in 1954. Today, Nautilus can be boarded and viewed at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, where the history of submarines in general is told.