Chelsea S. Bruck

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Historic Mills and Cultural Industries: A Two-Pronged Approach to Revitalization

This thesis addresses the relationship between the historic preservation of mills and the cultivation of cultural industries in postindustrial cities across Massachusetts. Drawing upon six case studies of arts and culture-focused adaptive reuse in Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, this study identifies the variety of challenges mill redevelopers face in creating cultural facilities and the range of strategies they deploy to achieve success. It also addresses the role of local government as a critical supporter of these types of projects, and derives lessons for city officials, developers, and other local stakeholders on how to advance the complementary goals of historic preservation, support of cultural industries, and economic and community revitalization. This paper argues that the adaptive reuse of historic mills and cultural industry development are complementary strategies for economic and community revitalization that city officials should actively pursue by establishing plans, policies, and programs to facilitate the redevelopment of these industrial and historic landmarks.

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