June 5th through 8th, visitors flocked to Willimantic’s 10th Annual Victorian Days. Presented by the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association, events included home tours, horse-drawn wagon rides, a Titanic exhibit, a lantern tour of three bridges, a cemetery tour, and numerous other activities.
Visitors to Willimantic are impressed by the high concentration and classic design of the homes in the Hill section that rivals those in San Francisco. The Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association earned recognition for the area on the National Register of Historic Places and obtained non-profit status.
As visitors walked the streets, they were transported to a more genteel era. They encountered the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriage tours, and ladies mincing down side streets in gauzy dresses with large hats and delicate parasols. Dapper men sporting straw hats and canes directed visitors to their destinations.
The main feature of the weekend was the tour of 16 magnificent Victorian homes in the area. Homeowners and docents accompanied visitors through the homes while recounting the history of each house, its families, and renovations.
Other events included a Model T Ford exhibition, a Victorian tea, Victorian garden tours, a Victorian architecture slide show, a lawn concert, and a “Third Class Bash” – a party that encouraged attendees to “participate in the rowdiness of third class with food, music, and notable Titanic passengers.” Period dress was encouraged.
Robert Horrocks, president of the association, said, “With more than 600 homes designated by the National Register as contributing to the architectural styles of Willimantic, the community is quickly becoming a tourist destination. The addition of the Visitor’s Center at the Windham Textile and History Museum has made information for tourists readily available. Victorian Days in Willimantic was started by a few homeowners who wanted to share their insight into the restoration and preservation of their Victorian style homes.”
The association serves to educate the public in the preservation and promotion of the history, architecture, and character of Victorian Willimantic.
The members of the association share their love, and even passion, for their community and produce a monthly newsletter with a focus on neighbors and craftsmen who work on old homes. For more information on the annual event or the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association, visit www.victorianwillimantic.org.