Preserve America Community:
Millbury (population 12,800) began in the 1700s as the industrial district of a farming community. Investors established water-powered mills on the Blackstone and Singletary rivers, mass-producing flour, lumber, paper, textiles, guns, and other metal products. Villages that formed around the mills incorporated as the new town of Millbury in 1813.
Millbury Rapids, Millbury, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy of Blackstone River Valley)
Here Thomas Blanchard invented the eccentric lathe to turn irregular objects, and Asa Waters was the first to use water power in the manufacture of guns, previously a labor intensive handicraft. His gun works and powder mill supplied the Revolutionary Army, accumulating great wealth for his family.
Blanchard's son built an 1832 Georgian Colonial mansion of the finest imported materials that were carted by horse and wagon from the port of Boston. The mansion is used today for special events.
Millbury is also known for being among the first places to print postage stamps, for creating the Lyceum movement supporting the presentation of public lectures, and for one of America's first labor movement newspapers, the 1831 Plebian and Workingmen's Advocate.
Other notable sites in Millbury include the Torrey House, home of the grandparents of President Taft, an original railroad car diner, and an 1828 classic white church on the common. Surrounding the common are old homes, built as early as 1747, a former general store, a tavern, and a one-room schoolhouse. In fact, Millbury boasts 127 historically significant properties within the Blackstone Canal Historic District.
Recent preservation projects include the renewal of an addition to the 1915 Carnegie library, noteworthy for the way the modern construction enhances the historic character of the old building, and the conversion of the Cordis Mill complex to 112 rental units, some of which are set aside for affordable housing.
For more information
Walking tour brochure
Asa Waters Mansion
Updated January 11, 2013