Haven of the Outcasts

The Abandoned Talcottville Mill

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“God help the outcasts, hungry from birth. Show them the mercy they didn’t find on Earth. God help my people, we look to you still. God help the outcasts, or nobody will.” The gypsy princess Esmeralda sings this haunting lullaby while walking through the streets of Paris in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The people she speaks of, the gypsies, were the lost and persecuted souls who found refuge in the abandoned tunnels beneath an old graveyard. They escaped the hate and suspicion they faced by hiding together from the world above. Today, the outcasts still dwell in these dark and troubled places. Much like the tunnels of Paris, they may not be easy to find, even when they are hiding in plain sight. In our travels, we have covered many of these havens. But the largest and most grim of them all has been this one: The Talcottville Mill.

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For centuries, the Talcottville area was known for its production of cotton and wool. The first mills in the area first appeared in the late eighteenth century. The Talcottville Mill was first established in 1795, not receiving its official name until 1856 when it was purchased by the wealthy Talcott brothers. A raging fire destroyed the original mill in 1869, but it was shortly rebuilt. For years, the mill was a prospering staple of the local community. But as the times continued to change, the mill slowly began to outlive its uses. The Talcott brothers closed up shop in the 1940’s. The property was sold off and used for other manufacturing purposes. For several years, it limped on before finally closing for good.

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We had seen the Talcottville Mill many times whilst driving around the area. It stands ominously silent, just begging for attention that it never receives. Though she stands in plain sight, none of the people in all of their comings and goings ever seem to notice it. In fact it took us awhile to actually go have a look at this place for ourselves. The building is huge, undoubtedly one of the largest abandoned mills we have ever investigated. She is a large rectangular building, with a brick foundation with rotting bone white wooden siding. Judging from the tall spire from the back of the mill, we almost mistook it for a church. There is plenty of grass and overgrown weeds all along the outside. Most of the windows on the upper levels have been smashed, while those on the lower levels have been boarded up.

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Inside the mill is an echoing labyrinth of darkness. Plenty of stuff from the mill’s heyday has been left behind: old barrels, machinery, metals, tools. Even an old television lay shattered outside the main entrance. Many of the walls have been tagged with graffiti. There was also plenty of evidence of the homeless living here. Due to the boarded up windows and doors, the lower level lies in near complete shadow. But the upper levels are much brighter and open. Vibrant beams of sunlight stab through the cracks under doors and illuminate the upper halls of this empty mill. You cannot really get a feel of the size of this place until you are inside. Though a busy street lies just beside the grounds, the cavernous insides of the mill are eerily silent. The place was so big, we didn’t realize another group of explorers was inside until we had already exited the building.

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The Talcottville Mill is certainly one of our favorites. While exploring the grounds, we didn’t come across a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP SIGN. It’s as if this place has just been completely forgotten. Sadly, it was once a cornerstone of the local community. Now it is nothing more than a haven for the homeless, the mischievous, and the lost. It is a haven of the outcasts, as the old mill seems to be just as much of an outcast as her now current occupants. “God help the outcasts, the tattered, the torn. Seeking an answer to why they were born. Winds of misfortune have blown them about. You made the outcasts. Don’t cast them out.”

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Comments
  1. In my travels around CT I have become somewhat obsessed with old mills 🙂 I haven’t seen the Talcotville Mill but will need to get there. I did a feature recently on Tariffville where the mill has been renovated, and have a ton of photos from a morning in Rockville recently that I can’t wait to post. Have you been there? They have something like 8 old mills!

    Like

  2. Kathy says:

    Nice images! Went to this location this past weekend and got some awesome pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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