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Breaking The Pattern

December 10, 2006
Commentary By CHRISTINE PALM, Courant Staff Writer

For more than a century, Frog Hollow was a vital hub of Hartford manufacturing. But many companies fled the city in the postwar era, and the once-humming factories closed up, were demolished or, if they were lucky, were converted to other uses. Not so Thomas W. Raftery Inc., whose world headquarters is at 1055 Broad St.

In a building built at the turn of the last century and once used by the Bond Bread Bakery, T.W.Raftery manufactures draperies, bedspreads, fabrics (4,500 patterns), theatrical curtains, window blinds and solar shades. It also makes such items as swags, jabots and pouf valances (mon dieu, right here on Broad Street).

Founded in Rocky Hill in 1963, Raftery moved to Broad Street in 1979. The company upgraded the plant in the late 1990s, including a renovation of the facade that accentuated the building's warmth. Brick and a quartz-like stone complement surrounding buildings, the landscaping is simple and nicely maintained, signage is elegant, and some simple embellishments, such as window grille-work, contrast well with second-story window pediments.

Overall, the scale is human and dignified, even though the company does it all - manufacturing, office work and warehousing - under this one roof.

Despite some occasional drug activity nearby, the 60,000-foot plant's location in Frog Hollow "has been a blessing," says company president Gary Rigoletti. "We're grateful for our association with Hartford because we have an excellent local labor force of about 40 dedicated workers."

Here's a company that really invests in its neighborhood: Rigoletti donates the 10,000-foot second-story space to the Police Athletic League for its work with youth sports and woodworking classes.

"We've done well here," he says. "We're not going anywhere."

Man, is that refreshing.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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