The Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitor Center is a little-known travel destination for both tourists and locals. I’ve lived about 30 minutes away my entire life and never even knew it existed! The Visitor Center, marked by a beautiful ornate clock on the corner of a brick walkway, includes a museum inside what was once a boarding house for the mill workers. Lawrence was one of America’s first industrialized cities and its history is the history of immigrant families and labor strikes. The museum focuses on the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, now celebrating it’s centennial year! Not only did this strike change the face of Lawrence, but it also changed the way workers were treated all over the country.
The museum is free to enter, and when I visited with my sister and a friend on a Monday at 10:30AM we were the only people in the place. The museum has two floors. On the first you learn a little about the mills and immigrants who worked in them. You feel like you are stepping back into history as you peer inside houses to see some artifacts that have been preserved from the beginning of the 20th century. Onto the second floor you are taken back in time to get a better sense of Lawrence’s past. You walk through the mills and down a city street, into someone’s kitchen, and out the other side. Newspaper headlines of the day are displayed everywhere you go.
There are two places for movie showings and you can ask the friendly gentlemen at the front desk to play any of their selection of historical flicks. We watched some comedic shorts from the 1920s. It’s like being in your own private theater with the lights off and blinds drawn. It doesn’t take too long to get through the museum (30-60 minutes) and then you can enjoy a picnic on the benches outside as we did! There is a park right next to the center with benches and greenery hanging from a metal framework above your head. Lawrence is not somewhere you usually go to tour around, but the city is full of rich history and colorful characters from the past.
- There’s a parking garage just around the corner, if you want to park there. I paid $4 for about an hour and a half.
- Bring a lunch and picnic outside in the afternoon!
- Lock your car. This is a very nice area of Lawrence, but better safe than sorry.
- Lawrence is very close to Boston, MA so pair this trip up with your visit to the wonderful city of Boston.
Where: 1 Jackson St, Lawrence, MA
When: 9-4 Daily
Cost: Free! (There is a donation bin, however, and I donated $2 for a button at the end of the visit)
Have you ever visited the Lawrence Heritage State Park Visitor Center? What was your favorite part?