Historic mill in Manchester transformed into Connecticut’s largest LGBTQ-owned event space


MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — A historic mill in Manchester is now Connecticut’s largest LGBTQ-owned event space.

Weddings were one of the first things canceled at the height of the COIVD-19 pandemic. Now, officials say the opening of The Clerestory is a sign that we’re on the other side of the pandemic.

“Where love is love, and that’s all that matters,” Manchester Mayor Jay Moran said at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It’s no simple task to remodel a building with nearly 350 years of history, preserve its integrity, and transform it into a space that houses 54 small businesses. But that’s what happened at Hilliard Mills on Hilliard Street in Manchester.

“To actually come, feel the history, touch the history, discuss it, see the old turbine out in the yard, enjoy the buildings,” Peter Bonzani, the owner of Hilliard Mills, said.

Hilliard Mills was purchased and remodeled back in 2006, with 68% of the businesses owned by women.

“Realistically, the vision was to revitalize the space here and be able to turn it into something that could impact Manchester and really impact the community as a whole,” The Clerestory’s owner Drew Angelo said.

Seventy percent of couples who booked weddings at The Clerestory are members of the LGBTQ community.

“George Washington’s inaugural suit, the wool was made for it right in that corner,” Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said. “So cool, right? Would George Washington imagine that this place would be a wedding venue? Probably not.”

Angelo said The Clerestory is a welcoming and supportive place for all and can host corporate, social, and wedding events for up to 250 people.

Learn more about The Clerestory here.

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