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Lowell, Massachusetts Historical Markers

 
Overview of the Great Gate image, Touch for more information
By Roger W. Sinnott, April 18, 2011
Overview of the Great Gate
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — "Francis’ Folly"
Engineer James B. Francis knew that the city of Lowell needed protection from floods. He studied the Merrimack River and understood the dangers of flooding introduced by the canals flowing through the city. The Guard Locks controlled the normal flow . . . — Map (db m48418) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — "Quiet as the Grave"

In 1864, the Lowell Daily Courier reported that "all the cotton manufactories of any importance in this city have been quiet as the grave."

The outbreak of the Civil War severed the supply of slave-produced cotton. Many of Lowell's . . . — Map (db m117855) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Adelbert Ames
Born October 30, 1835 Rockland Maine. Died April 13, 1933 Ormond Florida. Major General, U.S. Senator, Governor. Married June 20, 1870 Blanche Butler, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Butler and Sarah Hildreth. Born Lowell Mass. March 1, 1847, . . . — Map (db m129906) HM WM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Benjamin Franklin Butler
Jurist, Soldier Statesman, Patriot-His talents were devoted to the service of his country and the advancement of his fellow men.

Born November 5, 1818 Deerfield New Hampshire, married May 16, 1844 Sarah, daughter of Israel Hildreth, Lowell . . . — Map (db m108045) HM WM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Blending Old and New

Wannalancit Mills blended the old with the new. Formed in the late 1920s, Wannalancit moved into the aging Suffolk Mills two decades later and adapted surplus machinery for the production of new types of fabrics—rayon, polyester, and . . . — Map (db m117820) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Bon Marche Building — 1874 - 1927 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Before suburban shopping malls began springing up in the mid-20th century, downtown anchor department stores like the Bon Marche sold almost every product a family needed. This store consisted of four interconnected buildings built in various . . . — Map (db m117870) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Brown, Fay, and Watson Houses — ca. 1844 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

These three Greek Revival style town houses were among several private residences built along Kirk Street in the 1840s and 1850s for a growing middle class that was being attracted to Lowell. Named from right to left for their earliest known . . . — Map (db m117801) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Central Fire Station — 1889 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Lowell's main fire station burned down in 1888 and although centrally located, was difficult to access on Middle Street. Palmer Street was cut through between Market and Merrimack Streets in 1889, improving access, and this new firehouse was . . . — Map (db m117893) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Central Street
Central Street has long been the primary north-south axis in the city of Lowell. Originally laid out to provide transportation between East Chelmsford and Billerica, Central Street was converted to one of Lowell’s two major commercial streets (along . . . — Map (db m1619) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Cherry and Webb Building — 1924 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

One of several large department stores historically downtown, Cherry and Webb was located here since 1889 and in 1924, extensively reconstructed the building in early Art Deco style with polychromatic terra cotta. This building actually . . . — Map (db m117859) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Chief of the Penacooks — Passaeonaway
Great Warrior and friend of the white man, embraced Christianity, died at the age of 122. Known as Aspinquid-The Indian Saint. — Map (db m65899) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Davis Block — ca. 1855 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Originally home to Wyman's Church that occupied a tall upper story over ground floor shops, the building was remodeled and converted to commercial use in 1879. Built by William Wyman, a local eccentric prone to ranting in church and at . . . — Map (db m117865) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Debating Slavery
By the late 1840’s, slavery was a defining political issue in northern cities. The topic was hotly debated in Lowell and created unlikely political alliances. Abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison visited Lowell as early as the 1830’s and . . . — Map (db m104021) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Evolution of a Millyard

The Boott Cotton Mills complex is one of the finest examples of mill architecture in the United States. The mill complex you see today resulted from many decades of expansion and adaption.

[Top left diagram] 1830s Four mill buildings . . . — Map (db m117856) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Florence Patti Marion — Arts Administrator, Teacher, Writer, Performer, Wife, Mother — (1943 - 2000) —

Florence was the guiding light of the Lowell Summer Music Festival at Boarding House Park for seven years. Instantly recognizable, she was the woman with the big smile and the bright red hair who welcomed audiences each weekend. Her energy, . . . — Map (db m117903) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — George L. Duncan Dedication Plaza and Fountain

Lowell was founded upon the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord Rivers to become a nineteenth-century textile manufacturing empire. The city later faced urban decline when industry left the region. On January 3, 1989, George L. Duncan, a . . . — Map (db m117778) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Harnessing Waterpower

Boott Dam Beneath the gatehouse to your left is a dam that controls the level of water in the Eastern canal. When the water is high, the excess spills into the Merrimack Wasteway and returns to the Merrimack River.

Booth . . . — Map (db m117815) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Homage to Women — Mico Kaufman — 1984 —

This sculpture is a tribute to Lowell's nineteenth century "mill girls". The intertwined figures also represent the struggles and aspirations of all women throughout time — Map (db m66208) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Human Construction — Carlos Dorrien — 1989 —
Site: Pawtucket Canal at Central Street. Material: Granite. The cut and textured granite stones of this work are arranged in a classic post and lintel form. Their monumental size reflects the endurance of Lowell's people throughout history. The . . . — Map (db m66209) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — In the Shadow of the Mills

To the right stands a boardinghouse block built in 1837, for the Boott Cotton Mills workers. Dozens of company-owned boardinghouses served as home for the thousands of young, single women - Lowell's "mill girls."

This block was one of eight . . . — Map (db m117814) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Institute Building — ca. 1891 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Middle Street was first developed in the 1830s and 1840s as a residential street, then largely redeveloped in the 1880s and 1890s with four and five story commercial and light-industrial buildings like this one. Originally known as the Burke . . . — Map (db m117885) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Irish Labor
Irish laborers were vital in digging and maintaining the canals. The mills required a smooth and even flow of water to ensure efficiency and profit. Before 1850, Yankee mill managers considered Irishmen fit to dig canals and construct mills, . . . — Map (db m66056) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — J.C. Ayer & Company Laboratory — 1859 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

This Italianate style building along with one to the rear on Middle Street was home to one of Lowell's largest patent medicine companies, J.C. Ayer & Company. A major Lowell industry, patent medicine companies like Ayer served national markets . . . — Map (db m117899) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Keepers of the Gate
The productivity of thousands of millworkers depended on the skill of gatekeepers like those who worked here at Tremont Gatehouse. By opening and closing sluice gates inside the small brick structure, the gatekeeper controlled the flow of water and . . . — Map (db m66210) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Life on the Corporation
Lowell’s first company-owned boardinghouses were built across the canal in 1823, to house young women workers from rural New England. Neat rows of boardinghouses once lined the streets of Lowell. The companies hoped that a moral, clean, and safe . . . — Map (db m66202) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Locomotives in Lowell

[The fireman] put his left foot on the lever that swings open the firebox door, to look at the searing inferno within as he...hurled shovelful after shovelful of coal... R.M. Neal, 1950 High Green and the Bark . . . — Map (db m117775) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Lowell Gas Light Building — 1859 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Established in 1849, the Lowell Gas Light Company supplied piped coal gas that lit the city's mills, businesses, and street lamps. Designed in the more contemporary and elegant Italianate style, the building contrasted with earlier Federal and . . . — Map (db m117790) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Lowell High School Clock Restoration — Rededicated - November 28, 2014

"Meet Me Under The Clock"

Installed in 1937 and gifted by the Classes of 1937, '38 & '39 the "Kirk Street Clock" has become the symbol of fond memories and great friendships for generations of LHS students. The clock now runs on a . . . — Map (db m117794) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Lowell Institution for Savings Building — 1845 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

The Lowell Institution for Savings was founded in 1829, providing a savings bank for the early "mill girls." Greek Revival in style, it housed the bank until its closure in 1992. Other tenants shared the building over the years including . . . — Map (db m117779) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Lowell Manufacturing Company — Market Mills
The first Lowell Manufacturing Company buildings were constructed along Pawtucket Canal in 1828 in order to make use of Lowell’s abundant water power. The two steam-powered building in this courtyard, however, were erected in 1882 and 1902 as the . . . — Map (db m65900) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — McCarthy Building — ca. 1892 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

When Palmer Street was created in 1889, new lots along the street were quickly built upon including this corner building, designed in the Queen Anne style popular for Lowell commercial buildings in the 1880s and 1890s. Originally five stories . . . — Map (db m117884) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — 119 — Meetinghouse Hill — 1630 - 1930 — American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Site —
Site of chapel erected in 1653 for John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians. Here he preached to the Wamesit and Pennacook Indians, converting many and establishing a village of Christian Indians called Wamesit. — Map (db m122299) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Merrimack St. Depot
This corner was the hub of Lowell activity from 1835 when the B&L Railroad opened, through the 19th century. The passenger depot stood here; in 1835 it was replaced by an Italianate style building which combined city offices, public meeting halls . . . — Map (db m66033) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Middlesex Safe Deposit and Trust Company Building — ca. 1893 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Constructed after Palmer Street was cut through between Merrimack and Market streets in 1889, this building was originally home to a bank with private offices upstairs. Renaissance Revival in style, the building is notable for the delicate . . . — Map (db m117872) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Old City Hall — 1830 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Lowell's Greek Revival style "Town House" originally had a large meeting hall upstairs. Town meetings ended in 1836 when Lowell became a city but the meeting hall continued in public use including a speech by Illinois Congressman Abraham . . . — Map (db m117777) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Pollard Exchange — 1891 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Middle Street was first developed in the 1830s and 1840s as a residential street, then largely redeveloped in the 1880s and 1890s with four and five story commercial and light-industrial buildings like this one. Originally known as the Parker . . . — Map (db m117889) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Raymond A. Sullivan — Headmaster, Lowell High School — 1938 - 1975 —

Citizen • Scholar Colleague • Father Disciplinarian

His 37 years of distinguished service as Headmaster scanned [spanned?] five decades which saw the Great Depression—World War II—Korean War—Sputnik—the . . . — Map (db m117798) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Simpson and Rowland Building — 1891 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Middle Street's smaller residential buildings built in the 1830s and 1840s were rapidly replaced by four and five story commercial and light-industrial buildings like this one during the 1880s and 1890s. Wholesale grocers Simpson and Rowland . . . — Map (db m117888) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Soldiers and Sailors Monument — 1861-1865
Dedicated Sept. 2, 1905 to the memory of the veterans of the Civil War and Spanish Wars. The erection of this monument is largely the efforts of the Women connected with the patriotic organizations of the veterans. This spot was set aside for . . . — Map (db m65898) WM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — St. Anne's Church
Shortly after the Merrimac Mills opened in 1823, the owners built this church to help attract young women workers from rural New England villages, and farms. Mill agent Kirk Boott oversaw the church's construction. Its Gothic style was derived . . . — Map (db m104022) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Steam Railroads In New England — 1830-1930
Steam Railroads in New England had their beginnings in the Charter granted the Boston & Lowell Railroad Corporation-June 5, 1830-First, train operated June 24, 1835-This centennial tablet placed opposite the site of the first depot by the Boston and . . . — Map (db m66043) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Stele for the Merrimack — Peter Gourfain — 1996 —

Site: Tremont Yard at Western Canal. Material: Bronze and granite.

A stele is a standing stone or slab with textured or inscribed surfaces which serves as a monument. This sculpture commemorates the wide variety of life generated by the . . . — Map (db m66211) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Street of Lightning
The Boston and Maine Railroad, completed in 1835, was New England’s first steam railroad. In the Lowell Offering, a “mill girl” wrote that people expected to see a “street of lightning” when the railroad arrived. The . . . — Map (db m66040) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Suffolk Mill

The original Suffolk Mill buildings, constructed in 1831, were razed and rebuilt during the idle business years of the Civil War. Only the 1831 counting house survives. The company merged with the Tremont Mills across Suffolk Street in 1871, . . . — Map (db m117840) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — The Birth of an Industrial City
The opening of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company on this site in 1823, marked the beginning of America’s first industrial city. The Merrimack was the largest of Lowell’s mill complexes. By 1848, it employed over 2,000 workers and produced . . . — Map (db m66200) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — The Great Gate
“It is awful to think of what would have been the inevitable result if the new works had not been constructed . . . A mighty and uncontrollable river would have swept through the heart of Lowell, destroying everything in its course.” . . . — Map (db m42037) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — The Lowell Sculptures: One, Two, and Three — Robert Cumming — 1990 —

Site: Boardinghouse Park Material: Granite, brick, and steel

These sculptures, located in three corners of the park, are composed of simple forms based on Lowell symbols that have been combined in a modular design. The shapes represent . . . — Map (db m117818) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — The Rule of the Bell
High above the courtyard of the Boott Cotton Mills stands a clock tower, crowned by a street bell. The bells chimed six times each day, summoning workers to and from their machines. In the new industrial cities of America, the factory bell replaced . . . — Map (db m66203) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — The Worker
In 1821 Hugh Commisky led a band of laborers on a trek from Charlestown to Lowell. With muscle and sweat they dredged canals in the soil of rugged farmland. As others joined in their toil a complex waterpower system evolved, creating a new era of . . . — Map (db m1620) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — To Education — Addition to Lowell High School 1922
The most powerful lever of a democracy in raising the standard of its citizenship ——————— A Tribute from the People of Lowell . . . — Map (db m117800) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Victorian Garden

Grassy park spaces have always been important in Lowell. The first mill yards were planted with grass and trees and designated "Malls."

In 1847, Lowell citizens insisted that the Northern Canal feature a tree-lined promenade; but by the . . . — Map (db m117767) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — W.A. Mack Building

Built in 1886 for Sewall G. Mack, foundry owner and former mayor of Lowell, this store was the headquarters for an extensive ironworks business. The Mack firm sold stoves, ranges and furnaces; and manufactured galvanized iron architectural . . . — Map (db m117764) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — W.H. Parker Building — ca. 1896 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

This building began its life as Lowell Primary School No. 3 in 1845 and the first floor dates to that time. By the 1890s it had been acquired by William Parker, a bobbin manufacturer who was also president of the First National Bank. Although . . . — Map (db m117812) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Wannalancet — 1630 - 1930
On Wickasee Island (now Tyngs Island) in the Merrimac dwelt Wannalancet, last sachem of the Pennacook Confederacy, and like his father Passaconway, a faithful friend to the English. — Map (db m48022) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Welcome to Lowell National Historical Park
The Park tells the human story of the American Industrial Revolution and the changing role of technology in a 19th and 20th century setting. — Map (db m65901) HM
Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Wentworth Building — 1845 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

Greek Revival in style with a mansard roof added after an 1865 fire, this building housed a typical main street hardware store for over 100 years and originally contained a public meeting hall upstairs. One of many locations for lectures and . . . — Map (db m117776) HM

Massachusetts (Middlesex County), Lowell — Wetherbee, Kelly, Rose, Maynard, and Ward Houses — ca. 1846 — Downtown Lowell Historic District —

These Greek Revival style town houses were among several private residences built along Kirk Street in the 1840s and 1850s for a growing middle class being attracted to Lowell. They are named from left to right for their earliest known . . . — Map (db m117793) HM


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