The Cheney Brothers Historic District in Manchester, Connecticut was a center of the U.S. silk industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today a National Historic Landmark, the 175-acre historic district includes over 275 mill buildings, workers houses, churches, schools, and Cheney family mansions. These structures represent the well-preserved company town of the Cheney Brothers silk manufacturing company, the first America-based silk-producing company. Among the buildings in the district is the Yarn Dye House. Built in 1914, this building sat vacant and decaying for decades as other mill buildings around it were converted to offices and dwellings. Finally in 2009, work began to convert the 89,000 square foot structure into 57 affordable housing units.
The $14 million renovation met the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings by preserving and repairing various historic features including the deteriorated roof and masonry walls, as well as the large multi-paned, double-hung windows. Some of the major challenges taken on by the project team included cleaning out contaminants and fitting apartments efficiently into spaces with 22-foot ceilings. As the final piece in the decades-long revitalization of the Cheney Brothers mill complex, the Dye House illustrates the potential of historic rehabilitation tax credits and other preservation incentives to foster job creation, generate affordable housing, and turn derelict buildings into vital community assets.
Last updated: October 13, 2017