Washington Mills Building No. 1, Lawrence, MA
Award Type: Honor Award
The old mills of New England are monuments to the emergence of the US as a great industrial power. As this project in Lawrence demonstrates, a mill can also be a monument to preservation’s power to keep the past alive by giving it a new use.
Lawrence, Massachusetts, 25 miles north of Boston, is home to a stunning core of massive yet inactive historic mills that recall its industrial heritage. Thanks to the partnership between non-profit, historic preservation firm Architectural Heritage Foundation and the Banc of America Community Development Corporation, one mill is again buzzing with activity. The partnership helped spearhead the city's first major housing development in over 20 years, transforming the Washington Mills Building No. 1 into loft-style rental apartments. The project has brought new life and the promise of spin-off development to the region, suggesting that better days lie ahead for Lawrence and surrounding mill communities.
Built in the 1886, Washington Mills Building No. 1 is a key building in the North Canal National Historic District. It is also a part of the Reviviendo Gateway Overlay Zoning District, which allows for residential use in the former industrial corridor. Washington Mills was deteriorating and almost completely vacant when it was renovated with funding from public and private sources, including state and federal tax credits. The $40 million, 17-month redevelopment transformed the 240,000-square-foot building. The rehabbed mill now provides 155 units of mixed-income housing, employing design features that showcase the building's industrial character. Ranging in size from 625 to 1,700 square feet, the lofts' architectural highlights include soaring 14-foot-high ceilings, nine-foot arched windows and exposed brick walls.