The clock tower of the Ayer Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, overlooks the Merrimack River on the other side of the wing to the left. It’s an impressive sight.
While water-powered mills sprang up all across New England, thanks to its abundance of falling waters, the riverbanks of some locations became jammed with factories that employed thousands. The Merrimack River, for instance, had major industrial clusters at Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire, and Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, all relying on the use and reuse of the same water carefully shepherded downstream.
Many of those landmark buildings have been lost over time – fire, neglect, and urban renewal have taken their toll – but those that remain can be truly impressive, especially now that they’re being repurposed and renovated into charming, flexible centers of entrepreneurial innovation and center-city living.
Lawrence, with what was once the biggest dam in the world, is a prime example.
Hard as it is to imagine, this group of mills was once dwarfed by those on the other side of the Merrimack River as it rolled through Lawrence, Massachusetts.