HISTORY OF THE CSR BUILDING
CAROLINE Stevens ROGERS BUILDING (1962, 1966)
John Radford Abbot designed this building to house the Merrimack Valley Textile Museum whose purpose was to collect, exhibit, and study material related to the history of American textile manufacturing. Caroline Stevens Rogers was the driving force behind this museum because she wanted a gallery in which to display the collection of looms, spinning wheels, and other hand operated textile equipment, which she had inherited from her father Samuel Dale Stevens.
This building was designed recreate the visual presence of an 1800's New England Textile mill similar to her great grandfather's 1813 mill. The bell tower contains the bell from her family's mill. In addition, the building complements the 1932 brick (now white) building to its right.
The Merrimack Valley Textile Museum (MVTM) thrived in the building for 34 years from its founding in 1962 by Caroline Stevens Rogers, her relatives, and executives of New England textile firms (1962-1996). The museum, with a staff of about ten offered educational programs, exhibits, publications, conservation of historic textiles, and a highly-regarded research archive. During the 1990s the board of the museum changed the name to American Textile History Museum reflecting an expansion of the scope of the mission. In 1996 they moved the museum to a much larger building in Lowell adjacent to the Lowell National Park.
Subsequently the Society rented the building to the Museum of Printing (MOP) for about 15 years. The early lease required MOP to make many improvements in return for a low rent. Unfortunately, the Society found it challenging to enforce these lease terms so that while MOP operated the building suffered from deferred maintenance, although additions of the handicap ramp at the front door, handicap bathrooms and a new roof on the rear building did occur. In 2016, the Museum of Printing relocated to an industrial building in Haverhill, MA (donated by a generous patron). It continues as a vibrant interactive museum today.