The following letter was sent to the Lowell City Council, City Manager, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, and Lowell Historic Board–PM
On behalf of the executive committee of the Lowell Heritage Partnership, I am writing to City of Lowell officials to request that they make every effort to protect a unique historic structure and cultural artifact in Lowell. The Jerathmell Bowers House is a valuable piece of Lowell’s heritage. The c. 1673 building is the oldest in the city limits and one of the last physical links to Lowell’s pre-industrial past. in 1994, The Bowers House qualified to be included on the National Register of Historic Places, an inventory of rare and significant architectural resources in America. It is considered to be a fine example of First Period Houses of Eastern Massachusetts.
In 1978, the Congress of the United States and President Carter acted to created Lowell National Historical Park, signalling to the nation that Lowell has a special and significant place in American history. The elements of the Industrial Revolution that are commemorated in Lowell exists in a continuum of history. The glacial formation of the river valley, the generations of native inhabitants, the colonial settlers from Europe—these elements are the preamble to the prodigious mill era that put Lowell on the map. It is important that we preserve existing physical connections to prior times when possible for those who will come after us. The actual structures, objects, and places help us understand our roots. There is also a sense of generational responsibility in this mindset. What others endeavored to make has value, just as we want our work today to be valued by our descendants.
The Bowers House, a modest 1 and 1/2 story cottage, stands for a time when pre-Lowell was a region of farms and villages. Our part of the Merrimack River Valley was one of the earliest settled areas as immigrants from Great Britain pushed inland from the coast of Massachusetts. At one time the Bowers House was part of a 150-acre farm. Jerathmell Bowers was a captain in the local militia, with his house serving as “garrison house” during conflicts with the native people in the late 1600s. Nearby, the Middlesex Canal ran in its stretch from then-Chelmsford to Charlestown, Mass., 31 miles. This district became known as Middlesex Village, with glass factory, sawmill, and grain mill by the early 1800s. The Bowers family witnessed these changes.
The Lowell Heritage Partnership, an alliance of more than 20 representatives from historical, environmental, neighborhood, and cultural heritage groups, urges the City of Lowell and the private sector parties seeking to develop and use the Bowers House property to work together to find a way to preserve the historic value that exists in the building. Our board of directors pledges to assist the effort with the knowledge, resources, and passion that we can bring to the challenge.
Paul Marion, President, Lowell Heritage Partnership