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Middlesex Community College
property on Middle Street. Renovated
Talbot and Derby buildings became
MCC's Health, Science & Technology
Center, which opened in 1995.
Ever an astute negotiator, Cowan got
a bonus in that transaction: furniture.
"We got all that bank furniture for five
cents on the dollar," she said, with
obvious pride. "We furnished the
Bedford campus with it."
Cowan's next project and clearly one
of her favorites was Lowell's historic
John Nesmith House. After a call from
the late Paul Tsongas alerting her to
the availability of the boarded-up old
mansion, Cowan encouraged the MCC
Foundation to purchase the house in
1993. It was beautifully renovated by
a group of designers and opened as a
Designer Show House in 1994.
"That was a fun project. Looking back,
acquiring Nesmith House was an
indication of what our standards were,
an indication of our commitment to the
community. It showed that we were not
some fly-by-night institution."
But it didn't stop there. Cowan had
long had her eye on another empty
property, this one situated right across
Kearney Square from the City
Building: the historic Federal Building.
"At the opening ceremonies for the
Lowell campus, I was standing on the
City Building front steps looking at the
Federal Building, and I said to the
group of officials on the platform,
`That building looks like it belongs to
Middlesex.' They laughed, but I always
thought it was a natural."
Working with the city's Enterprise Zone,
the college acquired the property for $1
from the federal government in 1996.
Knowing it would take far more than
the state had pledged to complete the
renovation, Cowan explained, the
college began saving to finance the
build-out. The Federal Building opened
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