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Ann and Hope Mill Housing, Enclave Uphill from Blackstone St.

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1880, final row 1920–1921. Blackstone St. and Blackstone Ct., across Broad St. from the mill

A major portion of the “new village” on the Cumberland side of the Lonsdale operation is situated off the slope of Mill Street immediately north of the mill in a close-packed, gridded enclave which contrasts with the more scattered arrangement across the river in Lincoln. Granite-trimmed at sill and lintel, with corbeled eaves and gables parallel to the street, these brick houses are predominantly of two types: one-and-one-half-story duplexes with paired entrances centered in the front elevation and two-and-one-half-story, four-family units with doors to stair halls at either end. Construction occurred in two campaigns: during the 1870s, duplexes at 2–12 Main, 550–560 and 566–572 Broad, and quadripartite units at 13–55 Main; during the 1880s, duplexes at 574–600 Main, quadripartites at 562–564 Broad. Exceptional are two long nineteen-bay units at the foot of the enclave on Cross Street, with entrances at every three bays, except that a four-bay unit closes one end toward the mill and a two-bay unit the opposite end, with another door which doubtless gave entrance to maintenance facilities. These long units seem to have provided semidormitory quarters for single workers; now all partitions are gone and the buildings have been converted to warehouses. At 602–606 Broad are examples of another exceptional type with Greek Revival characteristics which seem to be the only survivors of 1860s housing. Like the brick buildings across the river, to a modern-day eye they have a severe mien that masks their status as model housing at the time they were built. Their substantiality, their orderliness, the exceptional attention to such amenities as yard space, the high standard of sanitation and an effort at community beautification, especially through tree planting, were all praised when they were built.

The 1880 construction campaign crossed Broad Street to produce one of the more attractive enclaves of workers' housing in the state. Nor does any other provide a more striking image of the hierarchy of mill work as is here revealed in the adjacency of the residence for the superintendent with those for overseers and lesser employees. On the corner of Broad and Blackstone, now much altered, is the large, spaciously sited, brick house for the superintendent, liege lord of the mill. Behind it, at 3–17 Blackstone Street, is a beautifully crafted row of cross-gabled, T-shaped brick duplexes for overseers lifted a little above the street on a terraced green. Their steep gables face the street with a commanding gravity appropriate to their inhabitants' position. The granite-silled and granite-linteled window tiers for each of the duplex units pull away from the center of the elevation toward flanking entrance porches set into the right angles of the T. A blind inset arch caps each attic window, with a corbeled frame of exceptional refinement under the eaves, its stepped coursing curved beneath the gable's apex. Cross dormers with clipped peaks also light the attic floor.

Behind this row, on Blackstone Court, with a stretch of green and yard between, is a row of four-family houses for workers of lesser status, akin to those already seen. Also two and onehalf stories, they set gable broadside against the road without terracing. Windows organized in regular rhythms across the facade terminate in doors at either end, each of which opens to two apartments, the smaller downstairs, the larger up, including dormered attic space. They appear more as a uniform wall than as the series of independent entities assigned to overseers. The still surviving parklike environment was one of the amenities which led the progressiveminded to applaud Lonsdale Company housing when it was built.

Across Blackstone Street from the overseers' duplexes is a later row of equivalent houses erected in 1920–1921. By comparison with the Victorian assertiveness of the earlier buildings, these are vaguely Neo-Colonial, with archroofed and (originally) latticed entrance porches. They are more domestic in mien and, measured by their predecessors, aspire to be demurely pretty.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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