The village of Nonantum is known by several names including Silver Lake and Tin Horn. Each naming convention refers to a particular period in the history of the area. The First Nation Algonquian language created the word Nonantum, which is a word that reflects and indicates a sacred or spiritual attitude. The nickname Tin Horn was attached to the village during the industrial period when a horn was used for calling workers to the factories and mills.
During the 1700s, there was an industrial boom that initiated a lot of construction for homes, streets and stores. The cotton, wool and brick industries that flourished during this period still leave an impression on the neighborhood today. The two-story company homes built by various industrial sectors were constructed for housing immigrant factory workers. The landscape consists of an integrated tapestry of residential homes, industrial buildings, commercial properties and the remnants of the farming lands that preceded them. The concentration of housing at the village center reflects the historical building patterns during the development periods.
Culture and Historical Origins
During the 1870s, there was a lot of industrial activity, and this gave rise to the overall layout of the village. This includes the street and residential layouts as well as the public transportation system of the time. These industrial trolley lines served the local businesses and residents, and the remnants of these public accommodations survive in reasonable condition to this day thanks to the efforts of various preservation organizations. The Nonantum Branch Library was constructed in 1958, and it has a distinctive look with its vestibular arches and granite entrance. Pellegrini Park serves as a community site with a recreation center and an open field.
The Temple Agudath Achim serves the Jewish community of Nonantum. This intricately designed synagogue is protected via its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was constructed in 1912. The Chapel Bridge Park development is a sprawling block of industrial buildings that were utilized during an extended period when a major textile boom occurred. This productivity and subsequent local economic gains continued until the end of World War II. Today, the complex employs office workers and serves various light industrial operations.
The local population and subsequent cultural practices of this area are heavily influenced by the early Italian and Romani immigrants. As a result, there are some fine Italian restaurants in the area, and the people speak an unusual local dialect often referred to as Lake Talk. This is a peculiar slang that reflects a complex history, and most people who speak it can only be understood by other local inhabitants. Outsiders may hear terms that resemble English words only to be confused by the meaning of a given phrase. Some speculate that the dialect developed during a period of war, which would explain the heavily coded references.
One of the earliest industrial influences on Nonantum was the Aetna Mills Company, which employed many different types of workers in the factories. The company also rented out homes to these workers, and the accommodations were partitioned according to the level of skill demonstrated by the workers. Therefore, the landscape of Nonantum has a combination of boarding houses as well as single or two-family homes, which were reserved for the foreman and managerial classes. Today, these properties contribute to the overall character of the village, and many examples of the old construction styles are still visible today. This includes the prevalence of the T-house and L-house floor plans, molded cornice, gable ends on the pediment and other interesting details.