History: Concord River
Founding of Belvidere Village
Historically the Concord River area of Lowell
has been home to several neighborhoods with quite distinct
identities. The oldest, Belvidere Village, was part of Tewksbury
until 1834 when it was annexed by the town of Lowell. The village
had been established by Judge Edward S. L. Livermore, a prominent
Federalist congressman formerly from Newburyport, when he purchased
a large tract of farmland above the Merrimack and Concord rivers
known as the “Gedney Estate” (the area currently the site of St.
Joseph’s Hospital). 
|Belvidere Village is seen on this map of East
Chelmsford in 1825. The Livermore estate is visible in
the center, right part of this map, overlooking the
Merrimack River. Several houses and commercial buildings
that stand along the main thoroughfare (now East Merrimack
Street) constituted most of the village.
Nestled along the east side of the Concord,
Belvidere boasted a population of about 1,000 residents by the mid
1830s.  Its inhabitants ranged from the
elite, including Judge Livermore’s family and newspaper editor
Leonard Huntress, to artisans and small merchants and common
laborers. The village gained a rough reputation due in part to the
carousing and excessive rum-drinking in various taverns and cottages
along the river. 
||By 1850 Belvidere included many residential
buildings and a teeming industrial district along the
Concord River around the Middlesex dam. Most of the
neighborhood's commercial buildings were located along East
Class and Ethnicity
Over the course of the 19th
century, Belvidere Village, now known as “Lower Belvidere,” grew
dramatically. The area was increasingly inhabited by
immigrants from Ireland and French Canada, through the 1880s, and
from Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Azores and Madeira
in the early 1900s.
This aerial view of a section of Lower Belvidere showing Concord
Street (bottom), to Pleasant Street (middle), to Fayette Street
(top) shows the many wood-frame, multiple-family houses that
characterize this neighborhood.
Most of the housing stock in Belvidere was built
between the 1880s and 1920s and included wood-frame, single-family
and multiple-family houses as well as tenements. The vast majority
of these dwellings, for workers and their families, were erected on
the streets closest to the Concord River. More affluent families,
including a mix of Irish-American Catholics and native-born
Protestants, resided in the area around Fort Hill Park. Into the
1920s, however, the neighborhood also retained a large middle-class
population, especially along the blocks of Pleasant and High
|One of the few tenements of brick construction in
Belvidere was erected in the 1880s by woolen mill owner
Charles Stott. Stott’s Mill was a short walk down Chestnut
Street (along the left side of the photograph). The 1880s
section of this building is at the left side of the
apartment complex. The section to the right was added in
the 20th century.
This view of Immaculate Conception, from East Merrimack Street,
looking north up Fayette Street,
dates to the 1890s.
The Neighborhood and Its Churches
By the early 1900s a number of Catholic parishes were located in
the Lower Belvidere area. This included the imposing Gothic-style
Immaculate Conception Church (completed in 1877 and attended by
parishioners mostly of Irish ancestry), Holy Trinity Church
(completed in 1904), and St. Joseph’s Lithuanian Church (originally
the Independent Polish Catholic Church and renovated by St. Joseph’s
parish in 1911).
Politics and Culture
As in other neighborhoods, the churches in Lower Belvidere
generally exerted a socially and politically conservative influence
over its members. Nonetheless, a small group of socialists and then
communists emerged in Lowell by the 1910s and this left-wing element
was especially vibrant within the Polish and Lithuanian communities
in Lower Belvidere. One leader, Joseph J. Nadworny, a Russian
Polish émigré, lived on High Street with his Polish-born wife
Amelia, five-year-old son John, and a 12-year old lodger, Olga Mazik.
Nadworny had immigrated to the United States in 1908 and was living
in Lowell by 1919, directly across from the Polish Catholic Church.
Initially employed at the U.S. Cartridge Company, Nadworny obtained
a job as an edge trimmer at a shoe factory in Lawrence. In Lowell,
Nadworny served as secretary of the Polish Communists, which met
regularly at Socialist Hall on Middle Street.
In late 1919, as part of the notorious Palmer raids on suspected
leftists and radicals, U.S agents and Lowell police raided Socialist
Hall, arresting several men and obtaining the names of additional
“reds,” including that of Nadworny. Lowell police then visited
Nadworny’s High Street residence, expecting to uncover radical
literature. Instead they found “a generous display of American
flags, and red, white, and blue displayed on all sides.” Believing
they were mistaken, authorities left Nadworny undisturbed. Police
superintendent Welch, however, was convinced that Nadworny was a
“red." When Welch received word that a “radical,” who had been
arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was carrying a Nadworny-signed
letter concerning financial support for leftist activities, he
ordered police to pick him up. Nadworny was then sent to the prison
at Deer Island in Boston Harbor, where he was confined with hundreds
of other suspects from the Boston region. 
Nadworny and a number of other Lowell residents imprisoned on Deer
Island were subsequently released. It is not known if Nadworny
remained active in left-wing politics but by 1930 he was living in
Chelmsford in a house that he owned and was working as a shoemaker
at the Phyliss Shoe Company factory on Bridge Street.
Industrial Decline and Neighborhood Struggles
For many Lowell textile workers the 1920s marked the beginning of
nearly two decades of economic struggle, with numerous mills in the
city shutting down or curtailing production. Despite a severe
nationwide recession in 1921, which hit hard the textile industry
and prompted wage cuts of 20 percent throughout New England,
Lowell’s population continued to grow during the mid 1920s. Lower
Belvidere neighborhood experienced a slight increase in its Polish,
Lithuanian, and Armenian population and, overall, the city recorded
an increase of nearly 2,000 dwellings between 1920 and 1924.
 By 1930, however, population gains in
Lowell dramatically reversed and the Johnson immigration bill of
1924 resulted in many fewer émigrés settling in the United States.
Property values in Lower Belvidere as in other neighborhoods dropped
precipitously during the 1930s and the quality of the housing stock
declined as well.
Hear Mary Lou Looney talk about growing up in a cold-water
tenement in Lower Belvidere in the 1950s:
This text will be replaced with the video
Similar to other working-class neighborhoods in Lowell, Lower
Belvidere has experienced considerable change in the past 25 years.
During the post-World War II years many in the inner city who could
afford to move, relocated to out-lying areas or to suburban
developments outside of Lowell. As a result, neighborhoods became
even more segregated, with income, rather than ethnicity, being the
determining factor. In the late 1970s and 1980s, however,
refugees from Southeast Asia and immigrants from the
Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean settled in Lowell. Many
of these newcomers were drawn to the relatively inexpensive rental
properties in such neighborhoods as Belvidere, Back Central, and
Swede Village. As in earlier periods in Lowell’s history, the
influx of people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds
sparked social tensions, yet offered the promise of a citizenry
enriched by new perspectives, skills, and shared aspirations for a
Hear long-time Swede Village resident John Quealy discuss changes
in his neighborhood.
This text will be replaced with the video
“Sketch of the Life of Edward St. Loe Livermore,” Contributions
of the Old Residents Historical Association, v. 5, n. 1,
(Lowell, MA: 1892), pp. 77-82.
Floyd, “The Lowell Directory: Containing Names of the
Inhabitants and Their Occupations, Places of Business, and Dwelling
Houses … to which is Annexed a Directory of Belvidere Village",
(Lowell, MA: 1834), p. 9.
 George Hedrick,
“Reminiscences and Recollections of Lowell since 1831,” pp.
 See the
1920 Federal Census for Lowell, Ward 5, along with
the Lowell City Atlas, 1924.
 For information on Nadworny see Federal Census, 1920,
Lowell, Massachusetts, Microfilm Roll 711A, Enumeration District
214, p. 82A, and city directories, 1919 and 1920. For accounts of
his arrest see “Two More Radical Suspects Arrested,”
Lowell Courier-Citizen, January 14,
1920, and the Lowell Sun, January 13,
1920. The other man arrested, Paul Kazura, allegedly admitted to
being a member of the Russian Communists of Lowell. Kazura lived on
Hale Street in a predominately Russian Jewish neighborhood and
police found “a large amount of radical literature,” including “a
group picture of Trotzky [sic], Lenine [sic], and Eugene V. Debs”
hanging on a wall. For descriptions of the “subversive” material
police found at his home see the same newspaper article cited
 Federal Census, Chelmsford, Massachusetts, 1930; draft
registration card for Joseph J. Nadworny, 1942. According to this
draft card Nadworny was born in Konin, Poland, on March 19, 1888.
By 1942 he was still living in Chelmsford with his wife Amelia and
was working at the Phyliss Shoe Company.
 This data
is based on a survey carried out by Lowell’s Chamber of Commerce in
1924. See “Survey Shows City Is Growing Fast,”
Lowell Courier-Citizen, December 24,