Cultural Heritage Tours


Wooster Square Tour

Winchester Davies Shirt Manufacturing Co.

59 Court Street


Winchester & Davies Shirt Manufacturers, c. 1860s. Courtesy Joe Taylor.

The development of the Wooster Square area as the city’s manufacturing center in the 1840s was fortunate for the thousands of Irish immigrants who came to New Haven fleeing their famine-ravaged homeland. Because of work opportunities for both men and women, the Irish established homes and businesses in the neighborhood and also found work as domestic servants, gardeners, coachmen, etc. in the homes of the factory owners. In 1859 the firm of Winchester and Davies (Winchester of the repeating rifle fame) built a shirt factory on Court Street. The 1860 Census shows 70 Irish-born women were employed as seamstresses at Winchester and Davies, living in a boarding house across the street from the factory. As sewing machine operators, they earned $4 per week, rather than the $3 per week paid to hand-sewers. In 1877 the Strouse-Adler Corset Co. purchased the factory, continuing to provide employment for Irish women and girls, and their American-born children, as well as other immigrant populations.

  • Text source courtesy New Haven Register March 3, 1864, reprinted in The Shanachie, Vol. XXV, No. 1, 2013 (Connecticut Irish American Historial Society newsletter).

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