South Common Historic District

The South Common Historic District includes one of Lowell's earliest public open spaces as well as a diverse array of public and private buildings.  Within the district's boundaries are fine examples of mid-19th century houses built for Lowell's growing merchant class, a variety of civic and institutional structures, and an internationally known industrial complex.  Examples of the Gothic, Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne, and Romanesque Revival styles can be found in the district.  The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and includes 30 structures.  In 2005, the South Common Neighborhood District was created, utilizing the same National Register boundaries, requiring review by the Lowell Historic Board of demolition, partial demolition, and new construction projects.
The 22.5 acre South Common was purchased (along with the North Common) by the City from the Proprietors of Locks and Canals in 1845 at an auction where the company was divesting of much of its non-industrial land holdings to assist in funding construction of the Northern Canal.  The South Common became a focal point for the construction of stylish residences, county courthouse and jail, three churches, and two schools.

Facing each other across the north and south sides of the Common are Summer and Highland Streets where house lots were created in the mid-19th century.  Early residents of the South Common area reflected a cross-section of Lowell's business class. The area attracted people who were drawn to the many homes prominently sited above the Common.

The basin-like topography of the South Common was accentuated by an early granite-faced oval pond which, by the late 19th century, had a six-jet fountain spraying a graceful arc of water into the pond.  The park was carefully laid out and planted and by 1905, the Park Commission made plans to create more recreational opportunities on the Common, providing it with much of its present appearance and function.  A running track and baseball diamond was installed in 1095 and a children's outdoor "gymnasium" planned.  In 1962, the Edith Nourse Rogers School was built on a site that had been occupied by a school since the 1830s.