An Historic Site

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu
Thumbnail of An Historic Site project

In 1827, William Giles Munson drafted a now famous portrait of Whitneyville, the manufacturing village that Eli Whitney had developed for 25 years. Whitney died in 1825. Munson's painting records buildings Whitney had built or had planned. Painters, journalists and presidents visited Whitneyville. It was an accessible and popular sampler of change that was sprouting next to rivers all over New England.

Munson's Whitneyville is thoughtfully organized, peaceful, and in easy harmony with the river and hills that surround it. By the time the Industrial Revolution had reached full force, few factory towns kept Whitneyville's idyllic balance. Munson's painting is an image that finds its way into text books that describe the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in part because it recalls a beginning of friendly human scale and dignity not yet darkened by smoke.

Factories are places of change. At least 18 buildings have come and gone since Whitney Sr's time. We are still digging into that history. With the painting and map, however, you can still find artifacts of Whitney's era and mind.

The Armory

The Eli Whitney Gun Factory by William Giles Munson, oil on canvas, 1826-8. Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel B

Eli Whitney, Sr. came to the site in 1798 specifically in order to use the water's power for running machinery; sixty-two years later his son turned the river into the first public water supply for the city of New Haven. For some decades thereafter, the river continued to provide power not only for the Armory's machinery, but also for pumping its own water into the network of pipes reaching New Haven's buildings and hydrants. Eventually it gave way, as a power source, to steam engines and electric motors, but it continues to this day to supply water for the city.

Learn More...

The Bridge

The-Bridge_site_summer

Of Ithiel Town's 1820 lattice-truss bridge design, Eli Whitney wrote "its simplicity, lightness, strength, cheapness & durability, are in my opinion such as to render it highly worthy of attention." A reconstruction of the Town Bridge crosses the Mill River on the Whitney site.

Learn More...

The Barn

Barn and Paddock

The Eli Whitney barn, built in 1816, was the centerpiece of the Whitney farm. It was the focus of agricultural activities which supplied the boarding house kitchen and provided shelter for the draft animals used at the Armory.

Learn More...

The Whitney Barn at 200

The Whitney Barn at 200 thumbnail

The Eli Whitney barn, built in 1816, was the centerpiece of the Whitney farm. It was the focus of agricultural activities which supplied the boarding house kitchen and provided shelter for the draft animals used at the Armory.

Learn More...

The Mill River and the Waterfall

waterfall_trees

Eli Whitney, Sr. came to the site in 1798 specifically in order to use the water's power for running machinery. Sixty-two years later his son turned the river into the first public water supply for the city of New Haven.

Learn More...

The Archaeology

forge.jpg

Four industrial archeological studies of varying scope have been made at the Whitney Armory site in order to learn about the manufacturing processes that were carried on at the site during its use as a small arms factory in the nineteenth century.

Learn More...

East Rock Park

East Rock Park is a park that was developed with naturalist landscaping, around and including the mountainous ridge named East Rock, located in the city of New Haven, Connecticut and the town of Hamden, Connecticut. It is located within the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven.

Learn More...

The Boarding House

The Boarding House thumbnail

The buildings on the west side of Whitney Avenue had a primarily social rather than a manufacturing function. The Boarding House, now home to the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, is the only residential structure that survives.

Learn More...

The Forge

In 1804, Eli Whitney constructed a forge. He used traprock quarried just 500 yards uphill from the site. The forge was the first and largest of the five buildings that Whitney Sr. constructed on the east side of the Mill River.

Learn More...

Back to Top