Wednesday, September 13, 2017
New England Villages: Collinsville CT
As noted in a recent post, I have been working on a project which looks at the viability of using historic New England village centers as a framework for supporting 21st rural development. The idea is that the village model can be updated to support sustainable development in the countryside and to serve as a counterweight to large-lot, exurban sprawl. I did some field visits recently and thought I would share some highlights.
Collinsville CT is a classic New England mill village, located in the town of Canton, in the lovely Farmington River Valley, about 15 miles west of Hartford. Canton has a population of about 10,000, while the Collinsville census area has about 2,700.
Collinsville was a “company town” serving the Collins Axe Company, which finally went out of business in 1966. The village has survived and even thrived. To quote the town’s master plan: “The business district of Collinsville is a wonderful mix of small retail shops, quasi‐industrial service businesses, restaurants, offices, arts culture, and residential units. The residential housing includes single family houses, two family units, multi‐unit residential buildings, and residential housing above business establishments. Most of the area is very pedestrian friendly. In many respects, Collinsville represents the mixed‐use vision that many communities are looking to re‐create in their own village centers.”
So, Collinsville has a lot of the ingredients we are looking for in a 21st-century New England village. What it could really us now is redevelopment of the beautiful (but dilapidated) mill buildings. There are some antique shops there now, but one can envision loft housing, incubator businesses, craft shops, etc. Know any buyers/developers?