Sunday, April 1, 2012

Photo Tour - Lowell City Hall

As I've mentioned before, back in my grade school days, I went to the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro.  The building was already nearly 70 years old, and even as a young child, I was fascinated by the architectural detail of the mid-20s Collegiate Gothic building. The floors were marble, the granite entranceway lead to a grand cast-iron staircase; the ceilings were 15 feet high. There were huge oak windows, massive transoms, push-button light-switches, and opulent entertaining rooms. The building had gone through a host of renovations, leaving clues of prior uses in certain rooms. My first-grade classroom was once a chapel; the spaces for the statues were still there. My 7th grade classroom had five doors - from when it was a series of small bedrooms and closets for live-in nuns.

Even in its old age, it was a beautiful structure - built with pride and intended to instill that pride in those who were students there (originally boarding students actually). I used to love exploring whenever I could - it would take hours to find every nook and cranny and there were a lot of doors that were always locked with those old skeleton keys. I managed to sneak up into the attic one night - not really much up there. Years later, I'd learn that there used to be a massive bell-tower above that, even in the 90s long gone. I never snuck into the tunnels to the outbuildings, but I knew where they were. A lot of my interest in architecture and urban exploration can certainly be traced to my nine years in that massive old school.

There was one other building I saw frequently that I was that impressed by - Lowell City Hall. Even though I was quite used to the sight of the building and had been inside it for various things over the years, I had never really taken a good look around. Recently, I attended the special meeting regarding late-night downtown disorder. Even though I actually didn't get any closer to the chamber than the hallway, I was really amazed at how detailed the council chamber was - I'd never bothered going to a meeting there before! This is clearly a building designed to instill pride in the citizenry - and they just don't make them like they used to. I contacted fellow Lowell Historical Society board member and city Historic Board employee Kim Zunino, looking for some sort of photo documentation of the building and a history. I got something far better - a guided tour! So, on a beautifully sunny and warm day in March, I snuck off for a few hours to look around from the cellar to the clocktower.

More after the jump.