The Maynard mill pond is not a natural landform, but rather, a man-made source of power for the old mill, which opened in 1847. In the early 1840s, Maynard’s ambitious founder, Amory Maynard – who was already running his own sawmill by age 16 – created a business partnership with a carpet manufacturer he had once contracted for. Thus, the pond was dug to power Maynard’s brand-new carpet mill, and filled by damming up the Assabet River. The carpet mill eventually failed, along with countless other American businesses, in the Panic (or recession) of 1857. Only one of those original mill buildings still stands today; moved across Main Street, it now functions as an apartment house.
In 1862, due to the Civil War, the Maynard-managed mill reopened as a factory for making wool textiles for use by the Union army, this time affiliated with the American Woolen Company. Once more, the mill became the heart of Maynard, and from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s, the prospect of work attracted Irish, Finnish, Polish, Russian, and Italian immigrants. Maynard became a multicultural hub. The mill thrived until the 1930s, when the Great Depression crushed the country’s economy and the mill was forced to sell all of its housing.
Luckily, business endured – for now. During the two World Wars, the mill cranked out blankets and jackets for our American soldiers. When peace resumed, business dwindled, due to the outsourcing of factories to foreign countries and the growing use of synthetic fibers. Tough economic times forced the American Woolen Company mill to close in 1950. But never fear – always the heart and soul of Maynard, the mill complex became the home of the startup Digital Equipment Corporation in 1957, and in 2000, after DEC shut down, was remodeled into Clock Tower Place. Today, the mill is being redeveloped as Mill and Main, combining fresh new businesses with residential housing to render the mill a prime example of historic preservation at work in our town.