Willimantic Then & Now (Part 2)

Hi friends! After some delay (a combination of work and daddy time) here’s the second set of “Then & Now” photos from Willimantic. An interesting aside – when I went to shoot the former site of the Burger Chef diner, now and for many years preceding the home of Papa’s Pizza and Roast Beef, I observed a man’s scooter catch fire in front of me. He ditched the bike in the Papa’s parking lot and fled. A large crowd gathered to watch the blaze until the Willimantic Fire Department arrived to extinguish it. I snapped about 30 photos of the event and sent them over to The Chronicle for publication. (Once they’ve cleared publication there, I’ll post them here.)

Have a great day!


The Baptist Church on Main Street adjacent to what was once called Lincoln Square, a broad intersection with a center block. In the 1970s, Willimantic undertook a massive redevelopment project and demolished Lincoln Square and many other historic buildings and blocks.


The Baptist church today, one of the only buildings still standing in the area. Note the spires of St. Mary’s church to the right and background of the building. The block itself is now a large field and the site of the abandoned and boarded up Jillson Cinemas (where I had my first date!)

elks fair prizes-a

The Willimantic Elks Club (#1311), built in 1925 in Tudor Revival architectural style.

elks fair prizes-a-now

The building today is virtually unchanged. It continues to host the Elks and is rented for weddings and other special occasions.

willi63-39“Mister Donut” in 1963 – it was a thriving business until at least the late 1990s (if my memory is accurate) until it was put out of business by the ubiquitous “Dunkin’ Donuts” Chain.


The building remains in 2014, with some changes.


The “old” Stop & Shop building in 1963. Stop & Shop still has a business in town at the location of an old Bradlees department store.


This building also still stands, now the site of the Access Agency social service. An addition was for a Wal-Greens store (right); today it houses the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.

2 thoughts on “Willimantic Then & Now (Part 2)

  1. I spent so much time seeing movies at the Jillson. I used to walk there to see movies from middle school into college at Eastern. Tuesday was bargain night. A bunch of us from my dorm would go there for cheap movies.

  2. I remember seeing Star Wars and Star Trek at the Jillson, many trips to the Stop and Shop (although ShopRite was our preference), and my Parish Hill high school prom at the Elks (1984). My aunt used to work at Bradlee’s (where I hid from Santa at 4yrs old). Thanks for the trip down memory lane and a look at the town I haven’t visited since the late ’90s. Sorry to hear about its $ troubles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s