Monday, May 17, 2010

Doors Open Lowell 2010 - Pictures

While I was too busy this weekend to get too many pictures, I was able to make it to three sites for Doors Open this year: all three are new.

The first was the Appleton Mill renovation.  I didn't take any new photos (the work has been progressing, but not in such a way new photos are warranted).  They are saying the project should have its first residents in by April 2011.  The rooms are supposed to be fairly open floor-planned, and about 1000 sq ft or so it sounds.  They will have deck space as well - the development will be targeted at affordable live/work space for artists.

The second was the Tremont Mill / JDCU building.  Over the past few years, the burnt remnants of the Tremont Mill power building have been cut down to basement level, and a new office tower has been built in its place.

Photos and more after the jump.

The old building is here.
And the construction and new building is here and here.

This picture shows the turbine room as it looks today:  This would've been underwater, and the iron collars are looking into where the turbine pits would've been.  If I had to guess, these stone walls are canal stone, and of course, the corrugated steel over our heads supports the new bank tower.  It's easy to see how a city like Rome was built on top of itself repeatedly looking at how things have progressed in Lowell.  There's been talk of a restaurant in this space, surviving off the ambiance and the proximity to the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

The water came in from the Western Canal through tunnels like this one...
Passed through these iron guides...

And into a turbine that was here.  In the picture above, you can see a plate in the floor that blocks the entrance to the tailrace.  In this photo, you can see the concrete platform on which the old dynamos (and presumably the shafts to the old direct drive systems) would've sat.

A picture of a photograph of what the dynamos looked like before they were removed to another mill out of state.

I finally got some answers on what happened here:  The Tremont Mill, according to the Doors Open website, has in place to the extent that these turbine pits were the sites of some of James B. Francis' hydraulic engineering experiments in 1855.  By the 1870s, this building's operations had been merged with those of the Suffolk (Wannalancit) mill next door, and the Ayer brothers owned a controlling interest.  The mill having closed around the time of the Depression, the Tremont Mill was demolished, and by the 1940s, this building had been cut down to the single-story structure that was remaining for many years.  It was decommissioned as a power plant sometime after 1960, and burnt sometime after that.  The dynamos were moved to New Hampshire by the company that operated the Wannalancit Mill in the 1980s.

Thirdly, I went to the Boott Hydro facility.  Built in the 1980s, this Italian-owned hydro plant sits on the Northern Canal wall off of Pawtucket St and produces the lion's share of Lowell's hydroelectric power - I believe 24 MW or so.

The tailrace

The sluice gate on the Northern Canal and the Merrimack River under the University Ave Bridge

I didn't take many pictures inside the facility: Although we had to wear hard-hats, the visitor's area is an observation room with some photos explaining how the plant operates and earlier Lowell Hydro plans.  It also talks extensively about the fish population and how they get around the plant.  There is a diagram showing fish waiting in a neat line to get up the elevator that looks like some album cover I've seen in the past fifteen years:  Other than that, the view of the plant doesn't really help explain much.

Fun fact:  Enel also operates the Lawrence hydroelectric plant, and picks up Salmon from under the Lawrence dam, and drives them upriver to the Nashua hatchery.  Craziness!

Finally, I took a few pictures of the Lofts at Perkins Park on my way back.  Nice to see the Hub Hosiery sign is back up:

Full album here:
Doors Open Lowell 2010