History

Historical Building Photos

Overview

The historic Boston & Maine Building, now known as MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center, is the gateway to the center of Lowell. Built in 1876, the building served as the Central Street Depot for the city of Lowell until 1895, when a new station was constructed nearby. The depot consisted of a two-story, brick head-house with a clock tower at the south end of the facade.

Originally, the building was home to offices and other depot uses. Historic photographs indicate that express companies, printing offices, a tailor shop, and the Western Union telegraph company leased space at the depot during the 1800s.

Over the ensuing years, this downtown Lowell landmark housed a number of businesses, including serving as a theater lobby from 1911 until the 1960s. Other occupants of the building included music teachers, barbers, florists, real-estate agents, and a paint supply store. In the 1970s, the building served as Paul Tsongas’ congressional campaign office.

The structure was saved from demolition in 1989 by the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission. The exterior of the building was renovated by Lowell National Historical Park, which transferred ownership to Middlesex Community College  in 2008.

 

Timeline

1876 Boston & Maine Building built to serve passengers and freight traffic for the Boston & Maine Railroad
1895 Building closed by the railroad, when rail traffic was redirected to Union Station on Middle Street
1911 Owl Theater, a second-run movie house, opened
1989 Saved from demolition by the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission
2008   Lowell National Historical Park transfers ownership to Middlesex Community College
2015  MCC breaks ground for construction
2018  MCC opens Academic Arts Center


For more history of the B&M Depot, check out the blog written by Joe Orfant, who graduated in MCC’s first graduating class in 1972 and a member of the MCC Alumni Association Board.

Last Modified: 8/2/21