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Remembering: “The Community Wants a National Park”

I was the “talker” at stop #2 on today’s final tour in the 2016 Lowell Walks/Summer Series. This “History of the Lowell National Historical Park” walk was led by LNHP Superintendent Celeste Bernardo. With “The Community Wants a National Park” as the theme, I was asked about organizations that I belonged to in the 1970s and (if there had been time) I would elaborate on how I saw the support for the Park evolve. I never got to the second part. Dick invited me to share my experiences and memories of those pre-Park days. So “walk” down Memory Lane with me.
There were three organizations that I was a part of in 1970s that were in my opinion critical to the idea of a National Park in Lowell and seeing the idea to fruition:
HUMAN SERVICES CORPORATION – HSC  was formed in 1971 out of the Model Cities Program and AMNO – the Acre Model Neighborhood Organization – they were federal programs connected with LBJ’s Great Society programs. HSC’s focus was on education, urban planning, children’s services and the community. The roots of the national park and defining Lowell’s culture in the broadest sense can traced to HSC and all the very dedicated leaders and volunteers that started it – Peter Stamas, Sr. Lillian Lamoureaux, Kay Georgalos, Fr. Belley, Pat Mogan, Jack Kirwin and many more. There were many HSC programs through the years but all those involved would certainly agree that HSC’s greatest achievement is that of keeping the notion of the “Urban” National Park alive and being part of bringing it to a reality… to a kind of rebirth of Lowell! After all these years, I still have a HSC connection!
THE LOWELL HISTORICAL SOCIETY – The Society was actually incorporated in 1902… but its root were in the 1868 Old Resident’s Historical Association.  The LHS mission was/is to collect, preserve and publish materials related to Lowell and to encourage and promote the study of the city’s history. The Society then and still sponsors lectures and workshops, has many books and other publications to its credit and it became a resource, collaborator and partner with the Park Service over the years. The Society’s extensive collection of artifacts, documents, letters, books, clothing, painting, etc. gathered and protected over the years was exactly “the stuff” that the Park Service would need. I joined the LHS Board of Directors in the mid-70,  was the President from 1980 to 1982 and served as Clerk until a few years ago and I remain on the Board.
THE LOWELL MUSEUM. The Lowell Museum was opened in 1976 in part of the Wannalancit Mill owned by the Larter family. (For many years the mill produced parachute material and was still a working mill in 1976.)  The Lowell Museum was a collaborative, city-wide effort with the Lowell Historical Society and HSC playing a vital part in its creation. A cross section of donors, granters, activists, partners like Lowell Tech now UML, the Merrimack Valley Textile Museum, the City of Lowell, banks and businesses, scholars, historians and more made it possible. But it was also supported beyond Lowell by those interested in the Industrial Revolution, Water Power, the Canals, the Mills, Mill Girls, Immigration, ethnic heritage… they all came to the table.  Its importance vis-a-vis the Park was that in the beginning it was an actual place to bring congressional staffers,  wary Park Service and Department of the Interior types to “show” them the working loom, the tenement kitchen and boarding house bedroom exhibits and more – to have them see the history and possibilities. Later the Lowell Museum had a co-operative agreement with the park… and worked closely to create the story, the exhibits, to translate the themes. Committed locals like John Goodwin, Lydia Howard, Lew Karabatsos, Mary Noon, Pat Mogan, Bill Lipchitz, Bob Malavich, Eric Thompson and many more were very important players.
Setting the stage….
From the mid-1960s to later in the 1970s, I was a English teacher at Lowell High School… that’s why I asked to make my comments here in Lucy Larcom Park – for the props! Look around… what’s behind you (St. Anne’s Church, the Masonic Temple, The York Club (now Cobblestones), Lowell High School – Coburn Hall and the 1922 building), those building were all there… but  across the canal the office building, the high school addition and walkways were not!
In 1965, my sensibility to historic preservation had a jolt as from Room 216 I watched the Dutton Street Row houses demolished… not an easy task… by wrecking ball but also brick by brick. The demolition shocked many people…  and even though City Councillor Brendan Fleming, my friend Lowell teacher and community activist Lydia Howard  and even Sun publisher Clemmie Costello tried to stop it.  It was in vain – the times were of Urban Renewal, take down and build new.
The attraction, the times…
I was interested in history and with my deep roots in the Acre and elsewhere – Lowell History, in particular. My Irish heritage and culture and the broad spectrum of cultures in the city reflected in my own classes with my students were also an interest.  I had a deep admiration for Dr. Patrick Mogan as an educator and as a thinker…. so I was naturally drawn to Human Services and their mission. I was a political animal… it was part of my nature and upbringing – my great uncle was a state rep and a Lowell Mayor and my maternal grandfather was a Lowell City Councillor in the 1930s… politics was dinner table talk. So the machinations that swirled around getting support for the goals HSC – Pat Mogan’s projects – Lowell: the Educative City, the City as a Classroom and, of course, the creation of the Lowell Urban Cultural Park had politics 101 written all over!  It was a local and state as well as a federal government push-pull. I was fully-into Congressional politics and knew the players, the pitches, the necessary partners and just how close the political play would be! Pat Mogan got the attention of Republican Congressman Brad Morse.  Morse laid the foundation with his colleagues and the very skeptical Dept. of the Interior/Park Service but it was the vigorous research and follow-through of Democrat Paul Tsongas and his talented and dogged staff that created a bipartisan coalition of supporters in DC. At home the skeptics were everywhere but so were the believers…  many of the believers were people of influence and just as dogged.
I couldn’t say that everyone “got it” or really understood Dr. Mogan’s vision – sometimes he needed an interpreter… a Peter Stamas for instance – who had become my boss and Headmaster at the high school by the mid-70s. I remember having Dr. Mogan speak to one of my English classes – they were Sophomores and were charged with using some aspect of the History of Lowell as a term paper theme – he talked, drew diagrams of the Educative City on the blackboard…. they were entranced and respectful … some caught on but others not so much! Pat spoke wherever a group would listen – even to high school Sophomores – because it was for EVERYONE to be in and committed and affected. The thing is – Pat’s visions were all tools – the Park was to be a tool … his real goal was that all Lowellians see their worth and the value of their city…. and that the experience of the citizens, the immigrants, the mill workers, the ordinary person…. was important to the country and to the world… they had worth!
The other thing that’s important to remember is that we were all abuzz about history in the mid-1970s. The county was celebrating the Bicentennial and Lowell was celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the founding of the town of Lowell back in 1826! The Lowell Historical Society committed to and did publish Cotton Was King – the first history written in decades… we celebrated with events, a ball, exibits, the Lowell Museum opened, kids were focused on this in the Lowell Schools – they had there own celebratory exhibit right here in Lucy Larcom Park in 1975.
So history was on our plate… the Lowell National Historical Park was to be about Lowell’s history and its place in the history of the United States… yes, the Industrial Revolution but also as an Immigrant City and all that implies.

I was at JFK Plaza on that June day in 1978 when the LNHP legislation signed by President Carter was brought home…. thousands, including many school kids  – celebrated… I cut that huge cake made by the Voke School for all to enjoy…. that day began my 38 year and still ongoing relationship with the Park Service… I could write a book…

Lowell Walks: Fall 2016 Schedule

Here is the Lowell Walks schedule for Fall 2016. Please note that these walks start at different places and times. Also included are like events that might be of interest to Lowell Walks participants:

Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 6 p.m. – Lowell Walks: Downtown Lowell First Thursdays – begins at National Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street. DH will lead a 90-minute walk along the downtown canals, discussing the history of the canals and the mills constructed alongside of them. The tour will end at Swamp Locks, just in time for the lighting up of the canals.

Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 10 a.m. – The Pawtucket Power Walk – begins at Boott Cotton Mills Museum. Led by Lowell National Historical Park’s Ranger Ken, this 3-mile (roundtrip hike) will follow the Riverwalk and the Northern Canal Walkway to the Pawtucket Gatehouse overlooking Pawtucket Falls.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 9 a.m. to noon – Hawk Valley Farm – Part of Lowell National Historical Park’s “Bringing the Park to the People” and co-sponsored by Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust, this event will explore Pawtucketville’s Hawk Valley Farm and will include a walking tour led by LP&CT’s Jane Calvin. Hawk Valley Farm is at the end of Varnum Terrace, which is off of Varnum Ave, opposite West Meadow Road.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 7 p.m. – Lowell Walks: Building Community – Panel discussion led by Richard Howe on how community events like Lowell Walks bring people together and create a stronger sense of community. We’ll also review the Summer 2016 Lowell Walks experience and begin planning for the 2017 season.

Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 10 a.m. – Lowell Walks: How Entrepreneurs turn Cities into Communities – begins inside Mill No. 5 (250 Jackson Street). Led by Franky Descoteaux and Lianna Kushi, the former and current executive directors of EforAll Lowell/Lawrence, this tour will explore Mill No. 5 and downtown Lowell to learn about entrepreneurs, old and new. Gather on 4th floor of Mill No. 5 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Saturday, September 17, 2016 from noon to 4 p.m. – Mill City Grows’ 5th Annual Harvest Festival at North Common.

Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. – Lowell Walks: Back Central Street – begins at Rogers School, 43 Highland Street. Led by Richard Howe, this tour will explore the Back Central neighborhood and will end at Rotary Park Garden, where gardeners will host a Lowell National Historical Park “Bringing the Park to the People” event.

Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. – Lowell Walks: Lowell Cemetery tour – begins at Knapp Avenue entrance of historic Lowell Cemetery (next to Shedd Park) for this free 90 minute walking tour. The same tour is also offered on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 1 p.m.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 – Lowell Celebrates Kerouac – evening kickoff of four days of activities celebrating the life and works of Jack Kerouac. Visit the LCK website for full schedule.

Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 10 a.m.  – Lowell Walks: Concord River Greenway – begins at Davidson Street Parking Lot, across from Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Led by Jane Calvin of Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, this 90-minute walk will explore the Concord River Greenway which runs along the Concord River in Lowell.

Please check the calendar to the left for more information about these and other events.

Lowell Real Estate: Week of August 22, 2016

The following real estate sales took place in Lowell last week:

August 22, 2016 – Monday
43 Brunswick St for $305,000. Prior sale in 2015 for $280,000
65 Lane St Unit C fof $147,000. Prior sale in 2008 for $155,000

August 23, 2016 – Tuesday
491 Dutton St Unit 501 for $300,000. Prior sale in 2007 for $300,000
175 Willard St Unit 15 for $55,000. Prior sale in 2000 for $43,500
35 Riverwalk Way Unit R202 for $215,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $240,000
130 John St Unit G003 for $270,000. Prior sale in 2014 for $229,000
13 Boylston Ln Unit 13 for $230,000. Prior sale in 2010 for $175,000
102 Baldwin St for $160,000. Prior sale 2016 foreclosure

August 24, 2016 – Wednesday
52 Whipple St for $285,000. Prior slae in 2013 for $192,000.
11 West Bowers St Unit 7 for $150,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $175,000

August 25, 2016 – Thursday
32 Newell St for $299,000. Prior sale in 1996 for $73,000
40 Oak St for $160,000. Prior sale in 2016 for $90,000
71 Harland Ave for $339,900. Prior sale in 2012 for $252,000
82A Fisher St for $222,500. Prior sale in 1976
223 Wilder St for $156,000. Prior sale in 2014 for $139,000
886-896 Middlesex St for $225,000. Prior sale in 1994 for $30,000
30 Angle St Unit 49 for $115,000. Prior sale in 2013 for $94,000
31 Rivercliff Rd for $281,000. Prior slae in 2005 for $195,333
43 Riverside Ave for $122,000. Prior sale in 2008 for $80,000
255 White St for $233,000. Prior sale in 2007 for $230,000

August 26, 2016 – Friday
4 Hanks St Unit 4 for $187,000. Prior sale in 2003 for $142,500
164-166 Smith St for $345,000. Prior sale in 2007 for $255,000
11 Morton St for $160,000. Prior sale in 1984
33 May St for $200,000. Prior sale in 1999 for $132,900
49 Beech St for $214,000. Prior sale in 2007 for $198,000
21 Cresta Dr for $389,000. Prior sale in 1994 for $149,900
21 Gold St for $100,000. Prior sale 2015 foreclosure
200 Market St Unit 3412 for $155,000. Prior sale in 2010 for $141,650
200 Market St Unit 615 for $175,000. Prior sale in 1997 for $61,000
117 Andover St for $360,000. Prior sale in 2003 for $255,000
112 Rogers St for $309,000. Prior sale in 2012 for $145,000

Foreclosure auctions advertised last week

444 Stevens St on August 31
48 Jewett St on Sept 2
35 Berwick Rd on Sept 6
170 Princeton Blvd on Sept 7
30-32 Saratoga St on Sept 7
282-284 Concord St on Sept 9
288-290 Varnum Ave on Sept 9
34 McKinley Ave on Sept 9
30 Angle St Unit 48 on Sept 12

120 Amesbury St on Sept 14

8 Brooklyn St on Sept 8

Democrats, Republicans, and . . . something new?

This post is by Mimi Parseghian

Although half of Massachusetts voters are registered as Unenrolled (not affiliated with any political party) we do tend to vote for people representing a particular party.  This year’s contentious, uncivil, at times ugly, Presidential Election has created the opportunity for “third parties” to emerge.

Unfortunately, the same factors that make it difficult for outsiders to get elected—money, media attention, and the power of the two established political parties—still dominate this election cycle.

However, there appears to be in both the Democratic and Republican parties a dissenting faction that wants to take action.  Yesterday’s Boston Globe had a front-page article about a letter distributed by State Senator James Eldridge.  The Globe wrote, “E-mailing a group of Sanders supporters, the Acton Democrat also contemplated the creation of a third, progressive party. But he focused on a reform-from-within approach to push the [Democratic] party to the left.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Curt Schilling of red sock and Red Sox fame, announced on a number of local radio stations that he is thinking of running against Senator Elizabeth Warren. On WBUR Cognoscenti web page, Tim Snyder writes about what may happen to Donald Trump supporters if he loses.  “Is the dawn of a viable third party in American politics finally here?  If so, it appears that the Trump Party (which of course would bear the great Trump brand) has it first down-ballot candidate: No. 38, Curt Schilling.”

Will Massachusetts we see at least one new political party after this Presidential Election? If this occurs, will it attract a faction of unenrolled voters?   If people want a change, they need to get involved, organize, and agitate.  Civic participation is not a spectator sport. It requires a lifetime commitment.

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