Visit The Historic American Velvet Mill
The American Velvet Mill on Bayview Avenue in historic Stonington Borough is a destination for locals and visitors alike to shop, dine, and explore.
The Mill was built in 1888 to entice new industry to the area. The American Velvet Company opened there in 1892, transforming a sleepy fishing village into a manufacturing powerhouse. At its peak in the 1950s, the Mill was the largest producer of velvet in the United States, operating approximately 300 broad looms and employing 450 workers. By the end of the 20th century, rising labor and manufacturing costs in New England prompted A. Wimpfheimer & Bro., Inc. to move its operations to Virginia.
Today the American Velvet Mill, like many other mills in New England, has been converted to a multi-use space. Thanks to the vision of managing partner Eric Pivco, the Mill is home to a thriving and ever-changing community of artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Tenants in the Mill offer visual arts, design, unique crafts, home decor, health and healing services, fitness classes, and other professional services. The Mill is also home to an artisanal bakery, an award-winning nano-brewery, a local cheese shop, a coffee roastery and espresso bar, and a woodfired pizza restaurant.
Each weekend, the Mill is buzzing with an antique and vendor market, as well as the Stonington Farmers Market, which comes indoors during the winter months (October through May).
Food & Drink
Social Coffee Roastery and Espresso Shop roasts their coffee beans on-site, and you can taste the difference in the handcrafted lattes and Americanos they serve. They also have a location on Water Street. Across the Plaza is Stonington Cheese who makes soft cheeses such as Quark, Farmers Cheese, Paneer, and young cheddars from locally-sourced milk. They’re popular for their custom cheese platters and offer complimentary tastings.
A destination in itself is Beer’d Brewing Co., an award-winning nano-brewery offering delicious ales by the glass, growler, or can. You may have seen their beers at your local package store or on-tap at your favorite restaurant — they’re sweeping New England! The brewery doesn’t offer food, but down the hall is Woodfellas Pizza and Wings. Their pies feature dough made with Beer’d.
Zest Fresh Pastry is another staple in the community, providing sweet and savory baked goods to many local restaurants. They also make stunning wedding cakes! Swing by their bakery Wednesday through Sunday to treat yourself to something delicious (on weekends they have ooey-gooey cinnamon buns that are to die for!).
The Gallery is one of the most beautiful and well-restored areas of the Velvet Mill. On the second floor in the west end of the building, there are over a dozen studios shared by fine artists including painters, illustrators, mixed media, and more. Additional painters, sculptors, photographers, and craftspeople occupy spaces flooded with natural light. Art and culture permeate the Mill and draw visitors with gallery openings and open studio events.
Retail and Small Business
There are unique and eclectic shops that offer something for everyone: kids, pets, gifts, home, business and beyond. Revival is an upscale farmhouse decor and architectural salvage store that offers antique and custom handcrafted pieces. Indigo Elephant is a gift boutique with high-quality, handmade jewelry, “mini tribe” baby goods, men’s products, handmade leather goods, fair trade items, bags, clothing, home goods, and more with a bohemian flare. Lohibition is an eclectic boutique offering home decor, mixed media art, fine fragrances, and seasonal finds from around the world. Village Records offers hundreds of records, music memorabilia, and other collectibles and antiques. 55 Penn Gallery offers antiques, collectibles, and fine art from the Colonial Period to Modern Art Deco. They appraise and buy single pieces or entire estates to sell at the store and their auctions. Chartreuse is a co-op featuring local artisanship, craftwork, and flair.
There are a handful of small businesses offering a range of services — from interior design to digitizing old slides. Charter Oak Scanning converts and restores old film and video into digital files; ArtPrint Studio specializes in fine art and custom photo printing; HG Park Conservation Framing does beautiful custom framing; Interior Connections can help you design a space around your favorite pieces.
Beehive Salon specializes in balayage and cuts, and also offers eyelash extensions and facial waxing. To gain strength, flexibility, tone and promote better sleep, visit Body by Bliss Pilates, Studio 1 Fitness and The Open Space Yoga Studio. Open the door to a pain-free you at Sacred Lotus Massage or one of the many therapy practices within the Mill.
The Velvet Mill hosts many public and private events year-round. Check out their event page for full details. On May 10, the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce will host the 7th annual FUSION, a celebration of local visual, culinary, and performing arts.
The Mill hosts private events for 50-600 guests and is the only space in greater-Stonington that can accommodate more than 300 people indoors.