I spent a fascinating day photographing the mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts with Bob Lussier last Sunday. Aside from the fact that the old mills provided a target-rich environment for any photographer keen on architecture, I also enjoyed reading up on the history of the place and discovering a link with my home town in Scotland.
It appears that the folks who built the towns and businesses of Lawrence and Lowell were inspired by David Dale and Robert Owen’s social experiment at New Lanark. At the time, most mills were known for their appalling work conditions and abuse of the workforce but Dale and Owen were determined to show that a mill complex could be both profitable and offer a good living to its workforce. They provided education, gave workers time off, encouraged social activities and generally treated the workforce with a dignity they could not expect in many other places.
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