When Willimantic’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT), EASTCONN’s regional performing arts high school, opened in 2004, a very long line of excited people waited for their first tour of the beautifully restored, historic building. The original Capitol Theater, built in 1926, was home to live vaudeville acts, movies, and musical events. Over time, it became a striking symbol of local community life, as told through the reminiscences of visitors: “I had my first kiss in the balcony,” one man told me, and others have also shared warm, funny, and moving stories of their personal experiences entwined with the history of this local landmark.
Since then, I’ve had many opportunities to ask people about their impressions of Willimantic, and what distinguishes it from all others. What are the essentials of Willimantic that make it the community it is? My colleagues at Thread City Development, a non-profit organization consisting of volunteers who share a passion for this revitalizing community, describe the many nooks, crannies, walkways, events, and “hidden gems,” that help define this town for them. Over and over again, I’ve been struck by how extraordinary the ordinary becomes when seen through the eyes of people describing their experiences and life in this culturally diverse community. From our unique Boom Box Parade and Third Thursday celebrations to our marvelous Frog Bridge – and so much in-between – people create meaningful and powerful memories through their active engagement with the Willimantic community.
We know you will find many opportunities to build your own memories of Willimantic as you visit and engage with our community, our neighbors, and our friends. Come and see for yourself. Look closely and listen carefully – a thriving downtown community awaits.
Thread City Development
Thread City Development Inc.’s mission is to return downtown Willimantic to vibrancy by fostering partnerships that facilitate community initiatives; support and attract businesses; improve the physical value and appeal of the community; and promote those efforts.
We utilize the Main Street Approach™ to structure goals for our organization. There are four major points to the approach:
- Design - Restoring the physical value of the district, through both new and rehabilitation construction and through the design of public spaces that will attract more people to walk and gather on a regular basis
- Promotion - Restoring the social value of the district through branding (creating a positive image of the district), retail promotions, and special events
- Economic Restructuring - Restoring the economic value of the district, by diversifying it with an appropriate mix of current and new businesses suitable for the given marketplace
- Organization - Restoring the civic value of the district, by building consensus and cooperation among groups that play a role in the downtown or village center.
Thread City Development is always looking for community-minded members who share our vision of creating a live, work, play and invest destination.