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The Town of Lowell

On March 6,1826, the newly incorporated Town of Lowell held its first town meeting at the Balch & Coburn Tavern near Pawtucket Falls.  Lowell's earliest political ventures were initiated by Boston investors who wanted local control of taxes in order to provide services to their workers.  With a vote of all residents then present, this meeting resulted in the election of three selectmen, a five member school committee, and a representative to the state legislature.  Although mill interests dominated the proceedings, the new municipality also allowed "old" residents to influence the future of their area.

     For the next five years, Lowell's town meetings were held in the hall of the Merrimack Hotel.  Mayor John Pickman surmised that taverns were chosen as meeting places with a view to secure not only sufficient accommodations for the most largely attended gathering of the year but also to provide the means of satisfying cravings of thirst and hunger of those attending.

     By 1830, Lowell had grown from a population of 2,500 in 1826 to 6,500 residents.  With a need for more meeting space and offices from which minimal public services could be run, Lowell constructed a town hall.  Town Hall reflected a long tradition of municipal building in the United States.  Combining a second floor for government use with a first floor public market, placed government in a secondary role to trade and business.  The Greek Revival style chosen for the Town Hall was intended to reflect the ideals of democracy and enlightenment which were thought by many Americans to be epitomized in the civilized society of the early Greeks.

     Government operations at this time were limited to providing schools and passing legislation intended to protect the public welfare.  Actual services, such as police and fire, were provided byprivate citizens in the form of privately funded police patrols and volunteer fire companies.

Lowell's First Town Hall

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