Ballardvale, Massachusetts

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AndoverMA BallardvaleMillPond.jpg
BallardVale or Ballard Vale
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Coordinates: 42°37′30″N71°09′38″W / 42.62500°N 71.16056°W / 42.62500; -71.16056 Coordinates: 42°37′30″N71°09′38″W / 42.62500°N 71.16056°W / 42.62500; -71.16056
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Essex
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
Zip Code

Ballardvale (sometimes written archaically as BallardVale or Ballard Vale) is a village located within the boundaries of the town of Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. Growing originally in the 19th century around mills located on the Shawsheen River, the village is a local historic district, boasting many varieties of historic architecture and a rich industrial heritage.

Andover, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Andover is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. It was settled in 1642 and incorporated in 1646. As of the 2010 census, the population was 33,201. It is part of the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Massachusetts-New Hampshire metropolitan statistical area. Part of the town comprises the census-designated place of Andover. It is twinned with its namesake: Andover, Hampshire, England.

Essex County, Massachusetts County in Massachusetts

Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the total population was 743,159, making it the third-most populous county in the state. It is part of the Greater Boston area. The largest city in Essex County is Lynn. The county was named after the English county of Essex.

Massachusetts State in the northeastern United States

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of the population of Massachusetts lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.



Ballardvale, Massachusetts Bv mill.jpg
Ballardvale, Massachusetts

In the 18th century, the Shawsheen River and its water power attracted the Ballard Family, who came and built grist and saw mills. At this time the area became known as Ballard's Vale, eventually Ballardvale.

Shawsheen River river in the United States of America

The Shawsheen River is a 26.7-mile-long (43.0 km) tributary of the Merrimack River in northeast Massachusetts. The name has had various spellings. According to Bailey's history of Andover, the spelling Shawshin was the most common in the old records, although Shawshine, Shashin, Shashine, Shashene, Shawshene, and later, Shawsheen, are found. The name, says Bailey, is said to mean "Great Spring".

In 1836 John and William Marland established the Ballardvale Manufacturing Company. The company produced the first wool worsted made in America, as well as the first wool flannel. Additional mills were built and shoes, carriages, locomotives, and stoneware pottery were also made in Ballard Vale. However, it was white flannels that made the village famous: Ballard Vale white flannels won prizes at the Columbian and Louisiana Purchase expositions.

By 1848, two mills, the Ballardvale Manufacturing Company and Whipple File Company, a factory-owned store, a schoolhouse, a railroad depot and houses were nestled in the Vale. Streets were laid out and previously undeveloped land was subdivided into house lots and many residences were built.

The village continued to revolve around manufacturing for many years, until the mid-20th century when most manufacturing, especially fabric mills, moved out of New England.

New England Region in the northeastern United States

New England is a region composed of six states in the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. Greater Boston is the largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population; this area includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Shawsheen River

The Shawsheen River has always played an important role in Ballardvale, powering its earliest mills. The Ballardvale Millpond and dam on Andover Street are focal points of the area.

By the start of the 20th century, Ballardvale had become a center for river outings. Couples paddled canoes along the Shawsheen or took rides on the motor yacht William Ballard. The river remains popular with canoeists. A prominent access point is adjacent to the dam.

Today the Shawsheen River Reservation, owned and operated by the Andover Village Improvement Society (A.V.I.S.), runs along the river from the village towards central Andover. The reservation is designed both to preserve natural resources and to provide space for passive reservation, such as walking. The Shawsheen River is home to many animals like geese, swans, and many kinds of fish.

The Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS) is a private land preservation society in Andover, Massachusetts. Founded in 1894, AVIS is the second oldest land preservation society in the United States. Its goal is to acquire land within Andover and preserve it in its natural state.

Historic architecture

Ballardvale is home to many fine examples of 19th-century architecture. Styles represented include Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne style Victorian. Historic homes include both those originally occupied by mill workers as well as mill owners. Ballardvale is a locally recognized Historic District, with specialized zoning regulating changes made to properties in the area.

Queen Anne style architecture in the United States architectural style during Victorian Era

In the United States, Queen Anne-style architecture was popular from roughly 1880 to 1910. "Queen Anne" was one of a number of popular architectural styles to emerge during the Victorian era. Within the Victorian era timeline, Queen Anne style followed the Stick style and preceded the Richardsonian Romanesque and Shingle styles.

Victorian architecture series of architectural revival styles

Victorian architecture is a series of architectural revival styles in the mid-to-late 19th century. Victorian refers to the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), called the Victorian era, during which period the styles known as Victorian were used in construction. However, many elements of what is typically termed "Victorian" architecture did not become popular until later in Victoria's reign. The styles often included interpretations and eclectic revivals of historic styles. The name represents the British and French custom of naming architectural styles for a reigning monarch. Within this naming and classification scheme, it followed Georgian architecture and later Regency architecture, and was succeeded by Edwardian architecture.


The railroad has always been important to Ballardvale, with a rail line running north-south through the village. Local as well as distance trains ran through the village starting on July 3, 1848. According to Boston & Maine railroad reports, a 'large and commodious station house' was built. In 1881, 56' of the original 135' of the station was turned 90 degrees and moved to 174 Andover St where it still exists. This portion of the station remained the property of B&M railroad until 1925. The other 78' was torn down around 1950. Today "Ballardvale" is a stop on the Haverhill line of the commuter rail operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Pan Am Railways freight trains also run regularly through the village. There is a gated railroad crossing at the intersection of Andover and Tewksbury Streets.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Public transport agency in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is the public agency responsible for operating most public transportation services in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. Earlier modes of public transportation in Boston were independently owned and operated; many were first folded into a single agency with the formation of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in 1947. The MTA was replaced in 1964 with the present-day MBTA, which was established as an individual department within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before becoming a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in 2009.

Other village features

Despite being located within the larger town of Andover, Ballardvale is still a functioning village, with its own local resources.

A U.S. Post Office, fire station, pizza parlor, and retail shops are all located along Andover Street.

The village is home to two churches. The historic St. Joseph's on High Vale Street, built in 1881, is a "mission church" of St. Augustine’s in downtown Andover, and remains open for Sunday Mass. Ballardvale United, on Clark Road, was formed in 1955 after the union of two smaller churches, the Union Congregational Church and Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Ballardvale Green is a small park located at the intersection of Andover Street and Center Street. Across the way is a large playground, where generations of children have played. The site was for many years occupied by a large public boarding house.

Located around the corner on Clark Road, the Burns Reservation, owned and operated by the Andover Village Improvement Society (A.V.I.S.) is 5-acre (20,000 m2) tract of undeveloped woods and wetland.

The Union Congregational Church still stands, though it has been altered by multiple fires. In the 1970s it was used as a paint/hardware store. After another fire it was rebuilt as a residence.

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