The Archives

Today’s image is from the archives at the Lawrence History Center.  This small room is filled with journals and records from the Essex Company and other businesses from the 19th and 20th centuries.  This particular journal is dated from 1850 through 1857.  These are what would today be spreadsheets and databases, but are instead preserved in leather-bound journals and books.

The Essex Company was was chartered in 1845 explicitly to build a dam and canals on the Merrimack River for the purpose of providing waterpower for textile mills.   The directors at the time planned to create a city (Lawrence, Massachusetts) by selling land on either side of the river for mills, homes for workers and managers, stores, churches, schools and local government.  The Essex Company was also created to build mills and machinery on contract.

This history of this city, and the stories that go along with it, is endlessly fascinating to me.  It’s made that much better by the fact that many of the buildings/mills are preserved in their original state, allowing us to experience what life was like 150+ years ago.

Three Eighths

This past weekend, Bob Lussier and I led a photowalk around the mills of Lawrence as part of the annual Essex Heritage Trails & Sails event.  In addition to visiting the Stone Mill and walking along the North Canal, we were also able to spend some time at the Lawrence History Center exploring the archives and the blacksmith shop on the property.

Bob and I are very fortunate to have a great friend and supporter in Susan Grabski, the History Center’s executive director.  She was kind enough to meet with our group, and provide everyone with a wonderful tour of the facilities.  Thanks Susan!

This is one of the shots I made in the blacksmith shop.  This little corner was lined with bins that at one time were used to store bolts and other items.   The shop is such an incredible place to photograph, and I’ll be sharing more images from here in future posts this week.

Fools and Tools

Today’s post takes us back to the Bradstreet School which I originally shared a few months ago.  The school has only been abandoned for about 8 years, but there are some interesting remnants there if you look closely throughout the building.

In addition to the colorful remarks about a certain Mr./Ms. Localla and Mr./Ms. Crane, I was also drawn to the distorted reflections of the stairs behind me in the glass.  I chose to desaturate this image a fair amount, as the actual colors of the paint in the school are still quite bright.

Copper Paint

A few weeks ago, I posted an image of the exterior of the former Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA, and mentioned my interest in returning for a more thorough investigation.  Well I went back the other day to see if it was still standing, and was pleased to see it still alive.

During its day, this factory pioneered new advancements in marine paint, using copper, lead, arsenic, cadmium and a variety of other unsavory metals, the remnants of which can now be found on its floor and walls as seen in this image.  It is now owned by a non-profit called Ocean Alliance, and I had the pleasure of meeting one of its employees who was kind enough to provide a very brief tour of the inside of the building.  It’s in a major state of disrepair, but efforts are now underway to clean and restore this iconic structure.  I only had a few minutes inside, so I grabbed just a few sets of brackets as we moved around the building.  This image is from the second floor, and the machine in the corner is an old printing press.

This place is fantastic, and although my visit was short, it was coastal-urbex heaven while it lasted.

Draper Corp

It’s back to the Boott Mill for today’s post.  I previously posted some detail shots of this equipment, and wanted to show a wider view of the textile machinery.  Watching the machines in action is so impressive when you think about when they were built and how they were originally powered.  This is one of the things that really fascinates me, and drives my passion for photographing the mills.

Boston Bridge Works

This is the Duck Bridge in Lawrence.  It spans the Merrimack River and recently reopened after renovations kept it closed for the past 2 years.  I liked the juxtaposition of old and new with the updated old sign on its new piers, abutments and trusses, as well as the view of the rebuilt bridge with the old mills in the background. The reopening of the bridge is just another indication that the community of Lawrence continues on its path of revitalization.

On a related note, the response we received for our first Historic Mills Photo Workshop on April 6th was overwhelming, and I’m excited to announce that we have added a second workshop at the Everett and Stone Mills for May 18th.  Please visit our web site for more information and to register.


The word facade comes from the French language, literally meaning “frontage” or “face.”

This is the facade of the Stone Mill in Lawrence.  As you can see, it is full of textures.  And colors.  And lines.  It also has a history.  And significance.  A past and a future.  I’m drawn to it because its “face” conveys it all.


This past weekend, I found some willing and able partners in Bob Lussier and Mike Tully to explore the abandoned factory of the former Cape Ann Tool Company in Rockport, Mass.  We met early in the morning to first do some sunrise shooting at Annisquam Light, and then headed over to the old factory for a little urbex shooting.  I had been wanting to shoot here for a while, and this place did not disappoint.  It’s a huge space, and the three of us immediately split up to explore all the gritty spaces and details for several hours. 

This image probably isn’t going to be my favorite from the shoot, but with limited time to dive into the shots yesterday, this was the first one I decided to process.  These tracks lead to the door in the back of the factory, which happens to back up to Pigeon Cove in Rockport.  An old truck axle was an odd thing to find here, and I liked the contrast of tracks and truck parts in the same space.  Stay tuned for more images from this place in the coming days.

That was the question this past weekend.  This is the old Cape Ann Tool Company in Rockport, MA which sits abandoned after shutting its doors in 1987.  It’s covered in No Trespassing signs and unfortunately sits on a somewhat main road (read: people will see you).  I grabbed this shot leaning in over a fence, but didn’t summon the nerve to go inside.  It looks full of gritty urbex photo opps, and I wrestled with my decision for a long time.  When I got home and processed the few images I grabbed from the outside, I decided that I need to make a return trip and do a little trespassing… I mean exploring… some time soon.

Before we get to today’s image, I want to say thanks for all the visits and comments the past several days.  I’ve been extremely busy with work recently, and haven’t had much time to stop by your sites and see your latest work.  I’m looking forward to catching up with all of you soon.

As I explored the wreck of the D. T. Sheridan, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the little details that I could’ve spent time shooting.  Since I didn’t have too much time there, I tried to find the most compelling ones to focus on.  Now I’m not sure the exact purpose these things served on the boat when she was working, but they’ve chosen to be great photo subjects as their second career.  I experimented with processing this as an HDR, as these types of rusty subjects are typically made for HDR, but decided that I liked the look of the single exposure better.