Lowell Opens its Doors and Lights Up A Bridge

Doors Open Lowell takes place this Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th. In its 17th year, this event allows the community to experience Lowell’s history in a whole new way. We typically are only able to admire the outside architecture of the different buildings that gives Lowell its historic character. Open doors provide an inside view to 31 buildings, as well as many “Doors Open XTRAS” open from 6-9 PM on Friday and from 10 AM- 1 PM and 1 PM- 4 PM on Saturday. There will be shuttle stops on May 5th connecting the different locations. Click here for the map.


Swamp Locks 1email.jpg

A new addition this year is the Swamp Locks Gatehouse located on Dutton Street. This gatehouse began operating in 1796 and was the second of three locking locations built on the Pawtucket canal. There have been many reconstructions of the gatehouse over the years and the current one is a restoration of the 1859 version. Swamp Locks will be open for tours on May 5th from 10 AM – 1 PM.


DSC_6127.jpg

From 6 PM- dusk on May 4th, you can climb aboard the New Orleans “streetcar named Desire,” a Doors Open XTRA The streetcar will depart from Dutton Street, behind the National Street Car Museum. Lowell’s first electric streetcar system began operating in 1889, and their final run was in 1935. The streetcar, New Orleans No. 966, currently in Lowell as part of the “On Track” exhibit, is one of the famed cars that transported people through the French Quarter and inspired Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Built by Perley-Thomas of High Point, North Carolina in 1924, it ran throughout the city until 1964.


 Photo courtesy of Barbara Poole

Photo courtesy of Barbara Poole

 Another XTRA this year is the Spalding House. Built in 1760 and located at 383 Pawtucket Street, the Spalding House is the third oldest surviving house in Lowell. The house was purchased in pounds and schillings because at this time we were still under the rule of England. The Spalding House was also known as the Moses Davis Inn and was a refuge for barge keepers bringing lumber down the Merrimack River before the canals were built. This historic site also features a lighting collection representing lighting sources throughout its history. The house will be open on May 5th from 1-4 PM


1024px-Franco_American_School;_southeast_(front)_side;_Lowell,_MA;_2012-05-19.JPG

The Franco American School will also be one of the buildings open for tours. Dating back to the 1870’s, the Franco American has been home to prominent Lowellians, an orphanage and a school. The building is currently being converted into residences, but the character and the history will be preserved. The estate has 14 Stations of the Cross and a Grotto reflecting its history as a Catholic orphanage and school. After 108 years, the Franco American has found yet another purpose to serve to the community of Lowell. Franco American will be open on May 5th from 1-4 PM.


 Photo courtesy of GLCF

Photo courtesy of GLCF

Don't miss it! The Cox Bridge Lighting is happening on May 5th! Thanks to the generosity of donors at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Cox Bridge has been outfitted with LED lighting that will highlight the architecture of the bridge and create a colorful display on this Lowell landmark, announcing holidays and special events. Come join us for fun, food, and entertainment before the switch is officially flipped. More info here