This museum is important, not just because of what it houses, but because of what houses it. Being on the site of the Boston Manufacturing company, founded in 1813 by Francis Cabot Lowell and by 1815 producing cotton textiles woven by mechanized power looms, an industrial first in the United States, the Charles River Museum is part of the history it so celebrates. The buildings of the BMC–from the first one, built in 1814 (visible from Moody Street as the first portion of the main mill building) to one of the very last, the 1911 boiler house and now the Museum's main gallery–are an endless source of curiosity and ever-revealing engineering and architectural stories.
We are lucky that there are snapshots in the form of documents such as the one below, which delineate in great detail the workings of the BMC. This fire insurance map, surveyed by the Associated Mutual Insurance Co. in early 1922, just a few years before the BMC ended production here (the "1901" date following the Boston Manufacturing Company's name marking a business restructuring in an effort to deal with increased competition), is chocked full of great information.
Besides an overhead map of the entire complex, with information on construction materials, measurements, and other infrastructure details, there is also, situated about the margins, elevations providing the function of each building, broken down floor by floor. In addition, it shows buildings long gone from the complex. Most notable of these are the #6 Dye House and surrounding structures along the Charles River on what is now Landry Park, and Store House #2 which is now the site of Enterprise Car Rental on Moody Street. Maps like these are an invaluable asset to understanding the workings of our building.
While our copy of this map shows quite a bit amount of damage due to water, age, and other factors, we have still been able to pull the information from the map for a fairly complete digital restoration which can be viewed more clearly, as well as printed to allow physical handling that would just further harm the original. We hope to have a reproduction on display soon for you to examine with as great curiosity as we have!