Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2009 Preservation Award Winners
Whitin Mill Complex • Northbridge
Whitin Mill Complex - Northbridge

Adaptive Reuse

The Whitin Mill complex is located in the village of Whitinsville in the Town of Northbridge. The complex is made up of five industrial buildings along the Mumford River, including the brick mill originally built as a cotton factory by Colonel Paul Whitin in 1826, and an 1879 forge building. The mill buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Whitinsville Historic District. The entire complex was rehabilitated by Alternatives Unlimited, Inc., an organization that provides residential, day, and employment services to adults with significant developmental disabilities. This broadly diverse adaptive reuse project converted the five buildings into a mixed-use facility with artisan workshops, a museum and gallery area, retail and office space, a restaurant, a conference hall and theater, and three residential units.

The project is also remarkable for its incorporation of renewable energy technologies, including the restoration of a historic low-head hydropower generator and the installation of rooftop solar panels. With the goal of creating space for community events and to embrace the complex’s riverside location, a large open plaza was created. The mill complex contributes much to the historic character of Whitinsville, and this innovative adaptive reuse project plays a significant role in making industrial history accessible to the public, while serving as a model for mill redevelopment throughout the Blackstone River Valley.

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