The Merrimack Mills’ New Block boardinghouse was new only because Lowell’s first textile mill built it in 1845, more than 20 years after its first dormitories for the mill girls.

Lowell's New Block boardinghouse on Dutton Street
Source: LoC

The New Block boardinghouse stood where Lowell High School is today.

Use the slider to see Dutton Street Then and Now
Source: LoC / Author

Generations of mill workers lived in the New Block. By 1912, at least, the boardinghouse offered tenants gas-lit rooms with city water and heat provided by a stove.

Here is a sample of the people living there in 1880:

An excerpt from the 1880 census showing residents of the New Block boardinghouse
A partial page from the 1880 US Census showing residents of the New Block on Dutton Street

For over 120 years, the New Block stood on Dutton Street in Downtown Lowell. The days of the red-brick row house were numbered, though.

Lowell's New Block boardinghouse on Dutton Street
Source: LoC

“Shall these relics of early Lowell be razed or saved for posterity?” asked Lydia Howard in a full-page article published in the Lowell Sun in 1966. Lowell grappled with the prospect of saving some or all of the Merrimack Mills’ corporation housing in the mid-1960s, but the costs were high to rehabilitate buildings that were being used as tenements and lodging houses at the time.

In the end, the same mid-century ‘progress’ that brought us the Civic Center in Lowell and Government Center in Boston spelled doom for the New Block and it was demolished in 1966.

Lowell's New Block boardinghouse on Dutton Street
Source: LoC

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