Monday, September 1, 2008

Hanks Silk Mill (formerly known as Silk Mill)

1932 saw the continuation of buildings of trade and industry make their way to the Village.
Hanks Silk Mill, built in 1810 by Rodney and Horatio Hanks in Mansfield, Connecticut, was one of them. The significance of this building comes from the fact that it produced the first machine-made silk in America.
The Hanks brothers originally built the mill over a waterway which they had diverted from a stream. The water fell from a large flat rock onto a mill wheel.
Once moved to Greenfield Village, the wheel was removed and a nearby grove of mulberry trees were planted especially for the mill, providing food for the young silkworms needed to produce the cocoons.Although the mulberry trees are still there, this production is no longer presented at the mill, as the time and energy it took to produce the silk was too time consuming for the little amount provided.

The original machinery of this mill burned, leaving just a few iron parts. But, the visitor can still see the same type of wooden reeds that once wound the thin strands of silk, as well as the parts that twisted the strands into a thread in tact as Mr. Ford had a reproduction of the machinery built.The Hanks brothers proudly called their silk "the oldest and best brand of silk on the continent."


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