North Canal Historic District

North Canal Historic District
Canal Street, Mill Street
Lawrence, MA 01840

The North Canal Historic District is comprised of 70 properties that feature mills, factory boarding houses, locks, bridges, the North Canal, the Great Stone Dam, the Lawrence Heritage State Park and Boarding House site and the Immigrant City Archives. The North Canal was designed by Charles Storrow and James B. Francis, and built by Charles Bigelow in 1848. It was built by the Essex Company to carry the water of the Merrimack River above the river and direct the flow through gates, locks, penstocks and sluices over the huge turbines below the mill buildings to the textile machinery. The Great Stone Dam, designed by Charles Storrow in 1848, is a 900 foot dam. The site includes the gate keeper's house, gate house and locks. The Immigrant City Archives preserves for research documentation, exhibits and photographic evidence of Lawrence's labor and ethnic history. The Washington Mills, built in 1886, was once the largest woolen mills in the United States. It is the site of earlier Bay State Mills, which was the background for Winslow Homer's graphic "Bell Time." The American Woolen Company bought the Washington Mills in 1899 and used it for production until the 1950s.


  • Historic Resources
  • Industrial Theme Trail
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
Rail Trail
Rail Trail Trailhead