Discover More

View a video of this lecture

Lowell Lecture

Mill Village / Mill City - Our Manufacturing Landscape

Date & Time

Oct. 3, 2018 at 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.


Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation
Located in the Historic Francis Cabot Lowell Mill
Park in the Embassy Theatre Lot — GPS "42 Cooper Street, Waltham"
154 Moody Street Waltham, MA 02453
Driving Directions


STEVE DUNWELL makes photographs of New England – its people, landscape, and industry. In 1980, Dunwell worked with Michael Folsom to document the existing condition of the Francis Cabot Lowell Mill at Waltham for the Historic American Engineering Record. Folsom did the groundwork for the re-use of this mill for housing, and created the Charles River Museum of Industry on the site.

Presenting Organization

Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation




Robert Perry (, 7818935410)

New England is blessed with abundant streams and rivers, offering many opportunities for industrial waterpower. For the first 40 years of American industry, hydro was the only power available. A half-century later, it was still the dominant source.

Let’s explore the way in which mills were located to exploit the hydro opportunities at various sites. Some started small, then expanded gradually. Later, more ambitious plans were promoted, tapping huge hydro power sites and creating the great mill cities at Lowell, Lawrence, Holyoke, Manchester and Lewiston.

The Francis Cabot Lowell Mill in Waltham is an excellent starting point, with its 500-horse-power dam, and its incremental growth from all-hydro to mostly steam.

The hydro story takes us to fascinating mill villages in rural areas such as Ponemah (Taftville, CT), North Grosvenordale, CT, and Pontiac, RI. Each has its own quirky story, and its own mix of immigrants who kept the machines running.

With this geography in mind, Steve Dunwell will also show each of the portraits in the exhibit “With These Hands” and tell us about these mill workers.