Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2008 Preservation Award Winners
The Apartments at Boott Mills - Lowell
The Apartments at Boott Mills - Lowell

Adaptive Reuse

Located on the Merrimack River in Lowell, the Boott Mills complex was the center of the world’s cotton textile industry from the mid-1830s into the 20th century. The Boott Mills is the most intact example of early mill construction in Lowell, and is regarded as one of the most architecturally significant mill yards in the United States. The complex consists of nine buildings built over the course of 100 years and reflects the early use of waterpower, steam, and electric power. The mill closed in 1955 when the demand for cotton and textiles decreased. After the mill closed, the complex suffered from more than 50 years of neglect and even weathered an explosion from across the river that blew out all of the riverside windows.

This most recent preservation project rehabilitated buildings 1, 2, 5 East, and 7, and adapted them for use for mixed-income housing. Although other areas have been restored to house the National Park Service’s Northeast Regional Offices, this is the first residential project in the complex. Repairs were made to the structure’s woodwork and masonry; the rotted cupola was removed and rebuilt; and the first floor was built up more than 18 inches to raise it above the 100 year flood plan. The signature clock tower, which once summoned workers to their jobs at the looms, was leaning off-center more than two feet and required complete reconstruction. As a residential project, the Apartments at Boott Mills bring 24-hour life to the area. This adaptive reuse project plays an important role in the city’s master plan, which aims to make Lowell a “lifetime city” for all ages and incomes.

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