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April 29, 2021

Old is New

You’ve ventured the hallways and shops of Mill No. 5, but did you know that the beauty and magic of the indoor streetscape was created from salvaged storefronts, vintage signs, and ornaments from Lowell’s rich architectural history?

One of our favorite things to witness is the look on a newcomer’s face when they step off the fourth floor elevator for the first time. There is always a look of surprise and confusion followed by a smile. “What is this place?” is a question we often hear.

Coffee & Cotton, The Luna Theater, and Dows Soda Fountain are the anchor shops of Mill No. 5. Each, along with every finished space on the fourth and fifth floors, was created separately with a specific theme in mind, yet collectively reflects a certain time period from Lowell’s past. There are hundreds of salvaged parts and pieces throughout the space. Starting this month we will periodically introduce you to some of the historic pieces which have helped create the spaces you see. We’ll give you the backstory on where these pieces came from and how they are being repurposed. We begin this month with two light fixtures from 1915.

In May of 2014, we got a call from the City of Lowell building inspector. The final remains of the Royal Theater on Merrimack Streetwere currently being demolished. We jumped in the truck and headed over there quickly to see what we could salvage. Decades prior, the roof had caved in, with only the balcony and stage remaining. We arrived and when we looked up, on the ceiling of the balcony, set against a background of sky blue crackled paint, we noticed two early 20th century milk glass pendant fixtures, still totally intact. Gently,we separated the globes from the crumbling plaster ceiling. Bright, clean, and fitted with new electrical parts, these opaque white globes powered by LED bulbs, hang just above the counter in Dows Soda Fountain.

Charles Harpoot owned The Jewel Theater also on Merrimack Street. It did so well that in 1915, he built The Royal Theater directly across the street. It was a 1200 seat theater and was known as “The New Jewel.” It was operational until 1964.

If you are curious about the history of a certain piece or space, please drop us a line and we may feature it in future newsletters. Get in touch:

3 Comments on “Old is New

Maureen Buzby
April 30, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Love reading this history. Thanhs for sharing.

May 1, 2021 at 11:01 am

I remember the Royal theatre! Glad that som historic pieces are now at Mill #5. Lived in Lowell most of my life . Now living in southern maine but still visit mill #5

Joel Cooke
May 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm

Wowsa thanks for letting us know


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