It can be argued that at least one of the places that the Industrial Revolution in America began was in Waltham in 1813, when Francis Cabot Lowell and The Boston Associates established the Boston Manufacturing Company, which produced cotton textiles. They hired mechanic Paul Moody of Amesbury to design and build the machinery and mill along the Charles River in Waltham. The BMC mills employed a method of production called the Waltham-Lowell System that was later duplicated by the Boston Associates on a larger scale at the famous mills in Lowell and would be copied by other industries. The image above displays the long factory building of the Boston Manufacturing Company which was constructed in three sections. The section on the far right, up to the tower, was built in 1813-1814. Closer to the second tower (seen in the distance) is the mill constructed in 1816. These two buildings were later joined by the middle section, built in 1843. Beyond the second tower, at an angle to the earlier buildings, is a mill constructed in 1852. The 1813-1843 buildings now contain senior housing and artists lofts. The image below shows the 1873-1880 mill building with attached smokestack along the Charles River. This section is now the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.
The building at 627 Main Street in Waltham was built by George Miller in 1856 and was designed by his son-in-law, architect Henry Hartwell. The building was briefly the Waltham Hotel, but after the civil war the upper floors were remodeled for offices and club rooms with commercial shops continuing on the first floor. Called Miller’s Block, it originally had a central arched passageway leading to livery stables in the rear (the ground floor facade was much altered in the 1940s). In 1867, Miller sold the building to Samuel B. Whitney, who renamed it the Central Block. Alvin Jewell, a pioneering weathervane manufacturer, was killed while erecting a new sign on the building when the scaffolding collapsed. The selectmen of Waltham met in he building until 1875 and Waltham’s first telephone exchange was located on the first floor.
According to Vol. III of the History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (1890):
Royal S. Warren, M.D., was born in Alstead, N. H., in 1822, and received his degree from Harvard in 1846. He settled in Waltham in 1847, and commanded a large practice, till, in 1865, he met with a railroad accident from no fault of his. While crossing the Fitchburg Railroad at Moody Street he was run into and terribly injured. He was confined to his house for about a year, and barely escaped with his life. He was permanently disabled. In 1868 and 1869 he represented Waltham in the Legislature. He also served on the School Committee. He removed to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1880, where he has since resided.
After Dr. Warren moved in 1880, the house was owned by his in-laws, who rented it. By 1915, the house was acquired by St. Peter’s School and then served as St. Joseph’s Parish Rectory. The parish was closed in 2004.
In the early nineteenth century, the First Parish Church in Waltham became a Unitarian church. The Second Religious Society of Waltham was established in 1820. Its meeting house was called the “Factory Church” because its membership was primarily made up of people connected with the Boston Manufacturing Company, which provided the funds for the building. This Society also leaned towards Unitarian views (it later united with the First Parish in 1839) and those with Trinitarian beliefs left to form the Trinitarian Congregational Church. The congregation erected a church building on the corner of Main and Heard Streets in 1826. The current church building, at 726 Main Street, was built in 1870. The organization of the church was changed in 1906, when it incorporated itself as the First Congregational Church of Waltham. It became a member of the United Church of Christ in 1957, but withdrew in 2006 to become an independent, trans-denominational congregation called Trinity Church.
The old Waltham Central Fire Station was built in 1887 at 27 Lexington Street, and is next to the old Police Station. In 1964, Central Station Department Headquarters were moved to the new Municipal Center at 175 Lexington Street and the old Central Station became the Auxiliary Fire Department Quarters. The building is architecturally similar to (although not as elaborate as) the Moody Street Fire Station (built 1890-1892), also located in Waltham.
In 1865, Waltham‘s Free Town Library was established as a merger of the earlier libraries of the Waltham Social Club, the Rumford Institute, and the Agricultural Library Association. It was initially located above a bank and, from 1880, in a building at the corner of Charles and Moody Streets. The current library was built in 1914-1915 and was designed in the Colonial Revival style by the Boston firm of Loring and Leland. The builders were Horton and Hemingway of Boston. To make way for the new Library, a tavern, built in 1672 and known as the Central House, was torn down. The library is also known as the Francis Buttrick Library, after the building‘s benefactor. Francis Buttrick, who came to Waltham in 1838 and became wealthy in the lumber and real estate businesses. He left a $60,000 bequest for a library in 1894, but due to legal issues the money had not been available for use for many years. Through the accrual of interest, the bequest had grown to $123,731 by 1914. The Library was expanded in the 1990s. Merry Christmas from Historic Buildings of Massachusetts!
The Colonial Revival-style City Hall of Waltham, designed by Kilham, Hopkins and Greeling, was built in 1926 and opened and dedicated in 1927. It stands on the old site of Rumford Hall, a building constructed a century earlier, in 1827, to house the Rumford Institute. Founded in 1826, the Institute was a lyceum, with lectures and classes in the arts and sciences for the female mill workers at the Boston Manufacturing Company, which built the Hall. An early instructor at the Institute was the Unitarian minister and educator, Bernard Whitman. The institute also established Waltham’s first circulating library. In 1854, the Rumford Building was sold to the Town of Waltham for use as Town Hall, eventually being replaced by the current structure. Waltham City Hall has a limestone facade.