Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hendey, Summer Street

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: This is Summer Street; the sentry is at the top of the hill but not visible. The city of Torrington plans to put a new bus terminal here. The old Hendey buildings are mostly empty and falling into disrepair. Windows are broken and some are boarded, and to those who live on the well-kept streets that surround the Hendey complex it must feel like blight. It’s not clear to me how a bus terminal will feel any better, but I don’t live there. It’s not for me to decide. 

There is an interesting article about the Hendey Company here: ( The article includes artists’ renderings of what the factory ideally looked like in 1897 and 1907. Both renderings show the 1880 office building with the squared onion, Victorian tower. The 1907 rendering was probably done in connection with the construction of the triple-height factory shed also shown in my photograph. Both renderings show a face Hendey management wanted to project to the world, but they take on new meaning once one has seen what the buildings really look like and the actual scale of their world.

These buildings and the comfortable, “walking" community around them grew slowly together with apparent sensitivity to relationships of scale and to the needs of each. The people who worked here, lived “up the street.” Even the nearby shopping district has life. The physical fabric of that world is largely intact with stories to tell to generations who are beginning to find this quaint. Soon, when it is Ancient and venerable they may regret its loss and the failure to imagine now what Hendey might become. It’s not hard to put a value on the buildings as real estate. How does one put value on connections to our roots? Henry James reminds us - I’ve quoted him before, “It takes an awful lot of history to make even a little tradition."

Other Hendey images previously posted on TODAY’S: