Lowell National Historical Park
|Lowell National Historical Park|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
The Boott Cotton Mill & Museum
|Location||Lowell, Massachusetts, USA|
|Nearest city||Lowell, Massachusetts|
|Area||141 acres (0.57 km2)|
|Established||June 5, 1978|
|Visitors||520,452 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
Lowell National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of the United States located in Lowell, Massachusetts. Established in 1978 a few years after Lowell Heritage State Park, it is operated by the National Park Service and comprises a group of different sites in and around the city of Lowell related to the era of textile manufacturing in the city during the Industrial Revolution. In 2019, the park is scheduled to be included as Massachusetts' representative in the America the Beautiful Quarters series.
- See the History of Lowell, Massachusetts article for a detailed history of the city
First settled by Europeans in the 17th century, East Chelmsford (later renamed Lowell in honor of the founders' deceased business partner) became an important manufacturing center along the Merrimack River in the early 1820s. It was seen as an attractive site for the construction of a planned industrial city, with the Middlesex Canal (completed in 1803) linking the Merrimack to the Charles River, which flows through Boston, and with the powerful 32' Pawtucket Falls. The already existent Pawtucket Canal, designed for transportation around the Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack, became the feeder canal for a 5.6-mile long system of power canals based around the falls. Unlike many other mill towns, however, Lowell's manufacturing facilities were built based on a planned community design. Specifically Lowell was planned as reaction to the mill communities in Great Britain, which were perceived as cramped and inhumane. Initially the factories of Lowell were built with ample green space and accompanying clean dormitories, in a style that anticipated such later architectural trends as the City Beautiful movement in the 1890s. Lowell attracted both immigrants from abroad and migrants from within New England and Quebec (including a large proportion of young women) who lived in the dormitories and worked in the mills.
The textile industry in New England experienced a sharp decline after World War II and by the 1960s, many of the Lowell's textile mill buildings were abandoned. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, several important forces came together from which emerged the Lowell National Historical Park. Congressman F. Bradford Morse assisted in the city's selection for "Model Cities" status; Brendan Fleming, UMass Lowell (UML) Math Department faculty member, after his election to the Lowell City Council proposed the first Historic District “The Mill and Canal District” which was approved in 1972; Gordon Marker, Executive Director of Model Cities and an urban planner, was instrumental in designing the concept for an Urban Park based on Historic Preservation and Economic Revitalization; Patrick Mogan, Education Administrator and later Superintendent of Schools, was primarily interested in Lowell's children and strongly advocated the preservation and sharing of their cultural experiences; and the Lowell Historical Society which opened the Lowell Museum in 1976. Together these circles of interest became a collaborating force led by United States Senator and Lowell native Paul Tsongas to enact legislation for a national park. In 1978, the United States Congress established the Lowell National Historical Park, the Lowell Historic Preservation District, and the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission.
Among the notable features of the park are:
- Boott Cotton Mill and Museum
- The Francis Gate
- Pawtucket Dam and Gatehouse
- Suffolk Mill Turbine and Powerhouse
- Kirk Street Agents House
- Mill Girls and Immigrants Boardinghouse
- The Lowell Canal System
- Swamp Locks, Lower Locks, Guard Locks
- Merrimack River and Northern Canal Walkway
The park includes a visitor center, as well as many restored and unrestored sites from the 19th century. The visitor center provides a free self-guided tour of the history of Lowell, including display exhibits such as the patent model of a loom by local inventor S. Thomas.
A footpath along the Merrimack Canal from the visitor center is lined with plaques describing the importance of various existing and former sites along the canal. The Boott Mills along the Merrimack River, on the Eastern Canal, is the most fully restored manufacturing site in the district, and one of the oldest. The Boott Mill provides a walk-through museum with living recreations of the textile manufacturing process in the 19th century. The walking tour includes a detour to a memorial to local author Jack Kerouac, who described the mid-20th century declined state of Lowell in several of his books. A walkway along the river leads to several additional unrestored mill sites, providing views of restored and unrestored canal raceways once used by the mills. Additionally, the park includes the Patrick J Mogan Cultural Center, which focuses on the lives of Lowell's many generations of immigrants. Other exhibits include a working streetcar line, canal boat tours exploring some of the city's gatehouses and locks, and the River Transformed / Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit, which shows how water power, the Francis Turbine, ran Lowell's textile factories.
From turbine to line shaft at Suffolk Mills, part of the River Transformed Exhibit
From line shaft to power looms at Boott Mills
- Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Lowell, Massachusetts
- MILL POWER: The Origin and Impact of Lowell National Historical Park by Paul Marion 2014
- "National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
- "LOWELL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK QUARTER". US Quarters. January 2014. Retrieved 2015-06-25.
- "APTA Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Site - Lowell, Massachusetts". American Public Transportation Association and the Seashore Trolley Museum. February 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- "U.S. Streetcar Systems- Massachusetts Lowell". U.S. Streetcar Systems Website. RPR Inc. November 23, 2011. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Lowell National Historical Park.
- Official Lowell National Historical Park website
- Lowell National Historical Park 2009 Annual Report
- Heritage Preservation and Development White Paper: A 30 Year Assessment of Lowell National Historical Park
- Presentation of Lowell Stories White Paper: A 30 Year Assessment of Interpretation and Education at Lowell National Historical Park
- Building America's Industrial Revolution: The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
- The Lowell Experiment: Public History in a Postindustrial City by Cathy Stanton (ethnographic study of the work of Lowell NHP)