Like the mythical bird who rises from his own ashes, Holyoke appears to be a city undergoing a rebirth, or at least making the attempt. In the meantime, the canal walk directs visitors past an array of old mill buildings. The buildings are shuttered and sad, but I think it’s a good story, I see reasons to be optimistic.
First, the canals themselves seem to be in good shape. That’s important, because I can only imagine the expense involved in restoring them. About fifty years ago, when they restored the canal walls in Lowell, MA, that had to recruit retired stone masons to direct a younger team of workers in techniques that are no longer in use. The projects were multi-year and multi-million-dollar endeavors.
Second, as I mentioned in the other posts this week, the dam across the Connecticut River is also in good shape.
Third, though the buildings look sad with their doors and windows filled in, that’s actually a very good sign. This means the buildings are protected from the elements, and it means people can’t get inside. A small textile mill in nearby Somers, CT burned after a group of 20-yr-olds broke in for entertainment. A very large mill complex in Worchester, MA burned after it had been occupied by numerous homeless people. Residents and firefighters were both loss in fighting that blaze.
There are signs of some businesses working out of the old mills. Hopefully, in time, the buildings will be transformed into homes for light industry and perhaps residences.
The collection in the gallery is offered in conjunction with Thursday Doors, a weekly blog fest where people from around the world gather at Norm Frampton’s blog to view and share images and stories of doors. If you want to join the festivities, head up to Norm’s place.
This door is on a building across from the second canal.
Gotta love these doors.
Some windows and access doors are still boarded-up, but this building is moving toward operational status.
We parked in the lot for a public park near the start of the Holyoke Canal Walk. This is the first mill building we saw. It looks sad, but it appears to be in very good shape.
There are businesses in the canal-side portion of this building. I’m not sure it’s enough to call it an economy, but I think it’s a good sign.
Potential. I think that’s about all this building has going for it today.
Boat Lock Station of Holyoke Power Company. I think the company has applied to decommission this plant.
We saw signs of life in buildings 2 and 3 along the first (upper) canal. This appears to be one of the original doors. I hope they find more of these.
Building 2 had many cars parked in its lot. That’s a good sign.
A bridge, a gate and a door, but I wouldn’t try using any of them
The building is still shuttered, but there seems to be an active loading door n the upper floor.
Close-up of that loading door.
I like the fact that someone not only added a window in one of the ghost windows,, but they actually matched the arch style.
These decorative stones are found throughout the canal walk.
Old and new. The gate is new. The ghost loading door is sealed…for now, as are the windows.
I believe these are (were) loading doors. It looks like the bottom one is open for business.
The main entrance to Parsons Hall. I’m not sure what the hall was, but now it’s an “experimental art space.”
This building is across the street from the second canal. This would not be a building that was powered by the canals. I love the stone and brick work.