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Barbara Clough

Learning to love Lowell

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The tag line in the town where I live is "Lowell - a lot to like." Around the old mill buildings, converted to so-so loft apartments, the banners of "a lot to like" have started to fade from the sun and rain and maybe winter. I moved here in July, so I don't know when they were placed on the lamp posts, as if by looking up at them I won't see the smashed jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce, spattered over the side walk in shards of glass and puddles that look like blood. A lot to like but not the person who had neither will nor initiative to clean up the mess they created. 

And yet, as I walked across the rain damp street so I could get a better look at the massive Queen Anne brick building that was the First Congregational Church, I thought, there's still a lot to like here. As I gaze at the building with its massive point-arched windows and slate roof, I see the red square with the white x in it. Behind me, also stunning in its scale is the Lowell Public Library, of which I will soon be a member. I think the red/white sign means demolition but I hope not. That amazing Victorian brick building needs a new life, an investment so that it lasts another hundred years, creates a new history for a new century. I don't know what the red/white sign indicates, so I turn into the library.

"Are they demolishing the building across the street," I ask the librarian, behind her plexi-glass shield.

"Oh I hope not," she responds. Clearly as upset as I am that a building as magnificent as the old church would come down.

"I don't know," I said. "It has that funny sign. The red square with the big white x. Isn't that a demolition sign?" I am heartened that she is as emotional about that splendid edifice as I am, even as she works in a splendid edifice that has clearly been lovingly saved. 

"I hope I'm wrong," I say as I gaze at the heavy oak shelves holding thousands of books. "Can I walk round?" 

"Oh yes, we're open until 9. I'm going to call someone. He'll be able to tell me what the sign means." 

I don't see her again as I wonder and wander around this granite Richardsonian Romanesque building fulfilling its purpose as a center of erudition. Only after I'm home, and I start writing this blog, do I go online and learn the red/white x sign means: "structural or interior hazards exist to a degree that consideration should be given to limit fire fighting to exterior operations only." 

I hope it never comes to that. I hope the librarian was able to find the person who could tell her that, 'no, the building isn't going to be knocked down.' And I hope someone comes to save it. 

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Hi Barbara,

I was pleased to read your post. Is this town now your new residence?

It is sad when they knock down some old, yet once treasured public buildings like churches or museums. They have so much history behind them and often are replaced by some awful towerblocks or something like that. Often they turn them into gambling establishments and that brings it's own problems. I hope they don't demolish that lovely building.

Apart from that I can see you have found a good library and you are exploring your new neighbourhood. 

Best wishes 


Barbara Clough


Hi Gill - Thanks for the feedback. I'm always thrilled when someone actually reads my blog. It's my daily exercise, but since I've started setting it as visible to the world, I like to know the world is out there. wink