Doors from Dr. Seuss' house. The façade of a 17th-century Georgian building from London. Stained glass windows. All of these elements are present in an 1873 textile mill that was recently reborn as an eclectic retail complex in Lowell, Massachusetts. Instead of the typical warehouse look, the interiors of Mill No. 5 feature architectural components salvaged from historic buildings all over New England.
The Appleton Mill was built by Nathan Appleton, one of Lowell's founders, and a relative of the 19th-century poet-intellectuals Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (he was also an ancestor of Andy Warhol's muse, Edie Sedgwick). At the time, Lowell was a major manufacturing hub, known for its textile mills. By the 1960s, most industry had left downtown Lowell, and the area felt like "bombed-out Berlin circa 1945," according to the Boston Globe.
The mill's developer, Jim Lichoulas, spent years collecting salvaged items and storing them inside his farmhouse in New Hampshire. He wanted to create a multi-use space to complement Lowell's burgeoning arts scene, while also finding a new home for the historic cast-offs, and settled upon the disused mill near a canal. The project was inspired by Irwin Cohen's vision for New York's Chelsea Market.
At Mill No. 5, retail stores are set behind salvaged vintage storefronts, and several tech companies have relocated from Boston to inhabit office suites decorated with Old World accoutrements. There's also a Victorian lounge that doubles as a literary event space, a farm-to-table restaurant, artist studios, and a 64-seat theater.
The biggest challenge, says Constantine Valhouli, who consulted on the project, was "getting some of the large pieces up the dramatic curved stairwell when they couldn't be craned through an open window."