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The West Thompson Dam

The Thompson Village of Nashaway

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~ The Village of West Thompson ~

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Courtesy of Thompson Historical Society

West Thompson is no longer a thriving village of the town of Thompson, Connecticut. With its original village center now covered by the West Thompson Lake, only memories serve to remind us today of what the village was once like.

 

West Thompson, originally called Nashaway because of its location between the French and Quinebaug Rivers, was purchased for 120 Sterling in 1707 by Richard Dresser of Rowley, Massachusetts. The land had originally been own by Captain John Chandler. In 1710, Richard and Mary Peabody Dresser gave birth to Jacob, the first “documented” child to be born in Thompson.

 

Up until the beginning of the mill era, farmland dominated the village’s landscape. In 1811, the “Brick Factory” was constructed for cotton textile production (there are currently debates as to whether this was the first mill of West Thompson). After going through multiple owners, the mill was purchased in 1881 by Sayles and Washburn, who also the mill in the downriver village of Mechanicsville. By the late 19th century, West Thompson residents had come to nickname the mill as the “West Thompson Opera House” because of the multiple businesses that could be found there, such as the Tatem Handle Shop, the Vogel and Lincoln Organ Company, and was also utilized as a dance hall. Unfortunately, the mill fell into disrepair in the early 20th century and was torn down in 1930.

 

During its prosperous years, the village of West Thompson was very similar to other nearby villages. Once including several blacksmith shops, cider mills, bakeries, shoe shops, orchards, general stores, junk/salvage dealers, a brick woolen mill, a metal bridge, tenement houses, a dam and a millpond, and a main street that ran through the village center, it is hard for Thompson residents today to visualize the part of West Thompson that once thrived where the West Thompson Lake now lies.

 

West Thompson Lake
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Courtesy of Brittany Gleim

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