Harmony Mills Mill #3
New York| Posted: 08/16/2006
The Harmony Mills District, which contains Mill #3, is on both the New York State and National Registry of Historic Places. Located on a sub floor in the south end of the building, the water turbine designed by Urick Boyden in 1860, which provided power for Mill #3 is still completely intact, and remains on the National Mechanical Engineering Landmarks Record. It is now one of the oldest surviving water turbines still intact.
Upon its completion in 1872, the 500,000 square foot structure had 13 miles of belts, powering 2,700 looms and 130,000 spindles. In a 60-hour time period 100,000 yards of cloth were produced. At its peak, Mill #3 employed 2,500 operators.
Formed in the 1820`s, the Cohoes Company and Harmony Mills Companies were the first to utilize the power of the Cohoes Falls and Mohawk River for industrial purposes. It was in 1834 that Mill #1 started producing cotton products. Combining the waterpower of the site, and the proximity to the Mohawk River, Hudson River and Erie Canal gave the site easy access to raw materials and the ability to ship finished products to widespread markets. Harmony Mills served as a model for other cotton mills in the United States and the world.
In 1850, the mill was experiencing financial difficulties and was sold to an investment group in New York City. One of the owners from 1875, Thomas Gamer was immortalized, eight years after his death, with a sculpture located on the outside of The Central Tower on Mill #3.
Mill #3 is typical of Victorian textile mill construction, it is massive in scale and features many decorative second empire elements, including original coins, cast iron, segmental arched windows and sills in the North End, with similar details of sandstone located on the South End. Arched dormers line the Fourth Floor of Both Ends. Harmony Mill #3, when it was built between 1862 -1872 went way beyond the minimum essential needs for the housing and manufacturing process. It used a structural system that provides today a second basis for reuse. The exterior of the Building with its Victorian grace and proportional repetition provided a grand image to a very early industrial application of Mechanization. As a worldwide-example of successful industrial revolution, Harmony Mills was an important part of the early American industrial process and community growth. Plans are in the works for a complete restoration of the entire complex based on the success of the 96-unit complex inserted into the Southern 1872 portion of Mill #3.
The ground floor to the Mill was converted into indoor parking for residents of the building. Within the building, an effort was made to expose, wherever possible the original cast iron columns. Special permission was granted by New York State and Federal Historical agencies to provide insulated glass windows that would match the appearance of the existing windows. The original plank floors were sanded down and refinished. Areas were the high ceilings were retained, got cleaned and painted, leaving beams and other structural elements exposed. Where possible original interior brick walls were left exposed. The original exit stairs have been retained.
A provision in the Building Code of New York State enacted in 2003 and in particular Article K provided a major foundation for making the 96-unit Mill #3 project a reality.
Article K802.3.2: Height and area for change to equal or lower hazard category. When a change of occupancy is made to an equal or lower hazard category as shown in Table K802.3, the height and area of the existing building shall be deemed to be acceptable. Governor Pataki is to be commended for backing this legislation so important to the restoration of historical buildings.
Based on these provisions the project was able to obtain the building permits with no variances. The project is insured by H.U.D. (HUD project #:014-32004) with a GMAC mortgage. The project cost came in at $11.5 million, and started construction in April of 2005 with full completion scheduled for March of 2006.
The project, as of this date, is 73% rented with 40 families living in the building currently. Based on the success of the first phase, plans are in progress for 134 more units in the north end of the building. Other elements contributing to the success of this project are local I.D.A. participation and the Historic tax credit program.
For more information contact:
The Clover Architectural Group
1977 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203