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a commute with a (different) view

the old Hardwick Woolen Mill

One of the more interesting benefits of becoming involved with our local American Red Cross chapter has been the change of scenery from my cycling commute point of view.  Riding to the chapter office a couple of times a month has been a chance to leave the old barns, the fields of cows, and ride into the old industrial part of town on largely deserted old streets.  The view is gritty, tough, battered and even decaying and crumbling in places – but (and it might sound crazy) I’ve enjoyed the departure from green fields.


I’ve taken my camera along on a couple of past trips, but never managed to stop and explore for one reason or another – running late to a meeting, getting rained on, running out of daylight, or (recently) not wanting to stop in the sweltering heat.

Today things were in my favor to linger and look around.  The building I have always been most fascinated with is the old Hardwick Woolen Mill.

back in the day ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill (postcard)

today ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill, not so postcard-ish

Built in 1890, it had once been used to process wool produced from local farms – “the entire process of cleaning, drying, weaving, cutting, and sewing was performed at the Mill”, according to information on The Old Woolen Mill website.  Although there has been a vision to revitalize the old building and convert it into a combination of retail, commercial and residential space, it’s been a struggle.  To date, there has been only minimal development – most of the property continues to crumble and deteriorate, sadly.  To some extent, I suppose it mirrors the economy…

I’d like to think that someday it might be vibrant again … meanwhile, I can’t help but enjoy the patchwork of the broken windows and other old things left behind.

patchwork of old broken windows; Hardwick Woolen Mill

Boiler Company door on the Hardwick Woolen Mill building

the very great people at the Red Cross let me bring my bike inside while I work 🙂

Posted by savaconta on August 15, 2011
  1. 08/15/2011

    great photos!

  2. 08/15/2011

    That’s one of our favorite places – while it looks empty a fair amount of it is in use. Josh Coleman has his sculpture studio back near where you took those pics, you’d just never know where unless you were there when he was. You got some great photos!

    • 08/16/2011

      THanks Jenn – I really need more time around there to investigate; I’ve never been inside where the newer stuff is. I was just a little surprised by one of the areas that had looked like it had been refurbished, but appeared almost abandoned (blinds were messed up, junk sitting outside, not in great shape as I’d expect it to be). Not sure what it was, but possibly one of the apartments (?). Regardless, it really is such a cool place. Would love to see it really take off.

  3. 08/15/2011

    Gosh, those the postcard and photos of the mill are cool. Not many mills still in operation in the US anymore. Hope that somehow the building can be re-purposed.

    And aren’t you volunteering for the Red Cross – seems like bike storage isn’t that big of a perk

    • 08/16/2011

      Thanks Renee … it’s fascinating to envision it during its hey-day, for sure. I’d like to hope it will someday recover – in a new form, anyway. And yes – I am a volunteer with ARC, but it still feels pretty *special* to be able to bring my bike inside with me 🙂 (silly, I know). They are a great bunch of people.

  4. 08/16/2011

    I love these photos…. I’ve been trying to take more photos of my bike during my rides. Yours are very creative.

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