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Merrimack Valley

April 13, 2014

Living Treasures

Tour shows off Lawrence's historical gems

LAWRENCE ­— Jonas Stundza, co-chairman of the Strikers’ Monument Committee, wants people to open their eyes to the historical treasures the city of Lawrence has to offer.

“It’s all around us. It’s living history and we are just ignoring it,” Stundza said.

The Strikers’ Monument Committee hosted a walking tour of Lawrence’s industrial history yesterday for The New England Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and the members of the Society for Industrial Archaeology. The tour featured several historic mills, the Ayer Mill Clock Tower and much more.

Stundza, who is also the chairman of the city’s Historical Commission, said about 25 people attended the tour.

“It was a wonderful tour. The people that went on the tour are the cream of the crop. They are the ones writing academic articles and restoring historic sites,” Stundza said. “They were absolutely mesmerized by the tour and what Lawrence has to offer.”

While communities like Salem and Lowell bring in tourism for history buffs, Stundza believes Lawrence has been “forgotten.”

“We have been completely bypassed,” he said.

“We sometimes walk by these buildings and think it is just another mill. It’s not just another mill. It’s living history. We are the daughter of the industrial revolution. It all starts here. It’s such an amazing history and it’s in our backyard,” Stundza added.

He believes now is a perfect opportunity to drive in more tourism for the city.

“Now is the time to bring in tourism and stimulate that. We have some of the most beautiful historic sites this state has to offer,” Stundza said. “We should be doing more educational tours. It’s time to tap into this resource.”

Yesterday was a good start according to Stundza.

“These people will go back and tell their friends in the academic or architectural world and tell them what they saw,” he said. “Word of mouth is very powerful here. It’s like the splash that started the wave. This is how we get eyes on Lawrence.”

He also said it is important to preserve the historic sites.

“There is a reason these sites have stayed in the condition they are in. It’s not a coincidence,” Stundza said. “We need to keep doing that.”

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