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Berkeley Mill and Mill Village

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1872, mill, Frank P. Sheldon(?); additions to south in the original style. 1872 and later, village. Cray, Lawrence, Woodward, Victory, Drummond, Silis, and Martin sts.

Berkeley is another well-preserved brick mill village in a gridded enclave four streets wide, all crossed by Cray Street. The housing here fronts the mill on a slope above it, rather than off one end of it as at Lonsdale. The first impression may be of identical houses, but a closer look shows considerable variety among them. In Lonsdale, as in most mill villages, variety in workers' accommodations resulted principally from building campaigns carried out over a long period of time. Here, housing appears to have gone up within a more restricted span of time. If this is the case, then how to account for the variation in treatment seen in Berkeley's housing?

On Woodward, the middle street of the first three off of and paralleling Mendon, are two-and-one-half-story four-family units comparable to those seen of Blackstone Court in Lonsdale, with entrances to either end and paired dormers and chimneys toward the center on either side of a party wall. The flanking streets (Lawrence and Victory) contain two-and-one-half-story two-family units with pairs of small eaves windows to light the attic stories from the front. At the north end of the cross streets are two larger units that seem to have been dormitories for single workers. But this distribution of differing accommodations is only roughly maintained. Moreover, while the walling of most houses is planar, some have piers, with a puzzling randomness about their location, making it uncertain whether successive stages of building or comparative experiment within the same stage account for variations among them.

The four-story brick mill stretches much of the length of the community at the foot of the slope. Window and wall treatment are identical to that for the later Ann and Hope Mill in Lonsdale, suggesting that this may be an earlier Sheldon-designed building. The towers of both show handsome proportions and comparable corbeling, but this is more conventionally Romanesque-inspired, whereas Lonsdale is more uniquely and abstractly ornamented. This mill, like that at Lonsdale, has lost its original low pyramidal roof. Miraculously, Berkeley preserves most of its twenty-over-twenty window sash, more than Lonsdale, as well as two tiers of cast iron–decorated fire escapes.

At 9 Martin Street, near the junction of Victory and Martin streets, is the village school, eight classrooms fitted into a tall brick cube, with boys' and girls' entrance porches on either side (now much battered from commercial use). Next to this is the brick house for the superintendent. Then, at the junction of Martin Street and Mendon Road, on the northwest corner, is a pair of overseers' houses in brick, altered in varying degrees. Diagonally across Mendon, the once charming Queen Anne Berkeley Methodist Church (probably 1870s) has been skewered into a photographer's studio. (Norman Vincent Peale, famous for The Power of Positive Thinking, honed his preaching prowess for Marble Collegiate Church in New York in this pulpit while still a theological student.)

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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