One of the ways the Andover Center for History and Culture serves the community is to share background history and context for issues the town is facing. Since 2016, I’ve had the honor of representing the History Center on the Historic Mill District Task Force as the request for proposals for the old town yard were developed. My fellow task force members and I participated in dozens of community meetings and forums. The questions, concerns, ideas and feedback shared by residents were then addressed in the RFP that will be voted on at April Town Meeting.
The RFP describes the community’s interest in a return to vibrancy and variety through mixed-use development that includes opportunities for housing, retail, restaurants, recreation, arts and culture, gathering spaces and improved access to the train station – all in the center of Andover. It’s a vibrancy that was there not that long ago.
In the early 20th century, before buildings were demolished to create the town yard, the neighborhood north of Essex Street was a vibrant and varied mill community. In addition to workers’ residences, the area included the original Tyer Rubber factory and small manufacturers. The neighborhood also had grocery stores, bakeries, cobblers, beauty parlors, houses of worship, a movie theater, train service and more. Memorial Hall Library was just steps away in Elm Square.
In the weeks leading up to Town Meeting, I encourage readers to learn more by attending an upcoming public information session and viewing information on the town’s website. I look forward to seeing the community gather again in April at Town Meeting.
executive director, Andover Center for History and Culture