The Gallery at the Old Schwamb Mill features several art exhibitions held throughout the year, each focusing on a variety of media and the professional work of local artists. The Gallery is open during regular Mill hours, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
In 1969 Patricia Fitzmaurice took a bike ride. Pedaling down Arlington’s Lowell Street, she discovered a quirky down-at-its-heels mill building. Peeking in the window, she was enchanted by a woodworking mill frozen in time with honey- colored wood, hand tools burnished from long use, and sturdy machines powered by leather belts. Told it was soon to be flattened, she rallied an intrepid cadre of backers to form the Old Schwamb Mill Trust to preserve the Old Schwamb Mill and its contents.
Pat scrabbled for money, expertise, and personnel to save the old building. Working for thirty years Patricia Fitzmaurice did a bit of everything: she gilded frames and she turned wood; she wrote grants and she gave classes. Sweating every month when the mortgage came due, Pat even corralled friends in grocery store parking lots to garner contributions. Somehow, time and again, she did it.
By the time of her untimely death in 2001, Patricia Fitzmaurice had succeeded: she had saved history.
From 1637 until the 1920s, Arlington’s Mill Brook bustled with industrial activity, ranging from grist and saw mills to large-scale manufacturing of saws, spices, wheat meal, fur clothing, wood products, and calico printing. The original source of water power from the cascading brook was gradually replaced by steam and electric power, but this fast-moving brook was a significant reason for Arlington’s early growth and development.
Informational panels, illustrated with historic photographs and maps, describe the mill owners and their businesses at nine mill sites along the brook’s three-mile course from East Lexington to the Lower Mystic Lake. The exhibit looks as efforts over the past 100 years to protect and restore the Mill Brook corridor as an ecologically healthy linear park linking public open spaces with the parallel transportation routes of the Minuteman Bikeway, Massachusetts Avenue, and Summer Street. This exhibition will be on display through June 2019, with the possibility of extension given the that the Town Hall is currently closed to the public.
In the meantime, please enjoy this exhibit virtually: A Brook Runs Through It: Arlington’s Mill Brook Legacy.
Produced in conjunction with this exhibit, the video “Mill Brook Rediscovered” was created by Arlington resident Glenn Litton of DocuThis in partnership with curators at Arlington’s Old Schwamb Mill. You may view the video here.