How to Use
Reading 3: Forms and Structures of the
The Rhode Island System
The Mills at Waltham
The standard Waltham plan was rectangular, 150'-160' long (reflecting the dependability of interior overhead line shafting) by 40'-50' wide (the optimum for spaces relying on exterior windows for natural light). The four stories of open floor space had a dormer-lit gable roof, brick construction with stone foundations, and a full-height exterior stair tower centered in one of the long elevations. Initially, these mills were built either as a series of similar structures, or constructed so they could easily be expanded.
The Boott Cotton Mills
As the century progressed, new technologies affected the millyard's development. Structures were added. The development of new means of fire protection such as ceiling sprinklers and better lineshafting to run machinery reduced the danger of fires spreading, allowing existing buildings to be connected. As sources of artificial lighting were introduced, the original width of buildings was increased. The introduction of steam power made it possible to construct several additional large buildings. The complex demonstrates the challenges of expanding on an increasingly restrictive site, bounded by a canal and a river. The Boott Mill complex is one of the few corporations at Lowell that managed to expand on its site while retaining and enhancing the architectural quality of the millyard.
Questions for Reading 3
1. Where had industrial development begun in the United States before Lowell was established?
2. How were the operations of Slater's Mill different from those of the Boston Manufacturing Company?
3. Why was brick considered a better construction material for a mill than wood?
4. Why do you think the stair towers were placed on the exterior of the mill?
Reading 3 was compiled and adapted from Laurence F. Gross and Russell A. Wright, "Historic Structure Report-History Portion, Boott Mill Complex, Lowell National Historical Park," Lowell, MA: National Park Service, 1985; and Robert Weible, "Lowell National Historical Park" (Middlesex County, Massachusetts) National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1985.