The Inauguration of the Lowell Quarter

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The Inauguration of the Lowell Quarter

Emily Rios, Associate Editor

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By Emily Rios

The U.S. mint welcomed the addition of the new Lowell quarter on Wednesday, February 6th at the Lowell Memorial auditorium. The National Historical Park services teamed up with America the Beautiful Quarters Program to create a design commemorating the history and culture of Lowell. As the 46th coin released in the U.S. Mint, this quarter represents the humble history and culture of one of the nation’s earliest industrial centers.

Students ranging from elementary to college, as well as adults, quickly filled the auditorium. With the number of visitors reaching over 2,500, it was no question that this was a highly anticipated event for the community. The ceremony called for the spirit of community, opening the event to the many students of Lowell High School.

Everyone stood as the Air Force Junior ROTC Honor Guard conducted the presentation of the colors. The respectable act was joined by the recitation of the pledge of allegiance by Senior Class President, Eunice Tabea. The audience remained standing for the singing of the national anthem, performed by the school chorus. The event officially began with a welcome from the Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent, Celeste Bernardo.

The honored quest of the event was U.S. Representative, Niki Tsongas, introduced by the Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue. Lowell was recognized for its unique history and beauty, with Tsongas showing her support for the new Mint addition.

After some remarks, Chief Executive Officer, Karen Frederick from Community Teamwork Inc., introduced and cleared the stage for a video displaying Lowell’s History. This video was accompanied by the Lowell High School Band, performing Mills on the Merrimack. The music and visuals created a deeper sense of Lowell when it was just starting out as a small town. The shift from town to industrial mill hub came with the new water technologies and benefits from the Merrimack River.

Executive Director from the Coalition for a Better Acre, Yun-Ju Choi, introduced students to share their analysis of its main features of the new quarter. The design was created by artist Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Mint sculptor and engraver Phebe Hemphill. The Middlesex Academy Charter School students divided the design of the quarter into three symbols; the mill girl, the loom and the bell tower.

The mill girls were an iconic and integral part of Lowell’s history. In the coin’s design, the mill girl is seen focused towards the power loom in front of her. Young women worked in the mills despite the hazardous conditions. Mills like the one depicted aided in the production of cotton textiles and economic growth for the city. Out of a window behind the mill girl is the bell tower. The tower symbolized the start and end of the day for workers when that type of labor system was just being implemented. Prior to the industrial revolution, people worked on their own within their own crafts, creating a class of artisans. However, the introduction of streamline manufacturing in factories opened up jobs to people of any skill. Young female mill operators were common, with the young city attracting immigrants and the unemployed for work. The coin encompasses the industrial as well as the innovative history of the city.

The ceremony celebrated an addition to the U.S. Mint, with multiple honored guests joining in the celebration. The local guests included Rosalyn Fennell, Deputy Regional Director of the Northeast Region for the National Park services, as well as UMass Lowell Chancellor, Jacqueline Moloney. Chancellor Moloney introduced Marc Landry, Acting Associate Director of the Numismatic and Bullion Directorate of the United States Mint.

The guests joined on stage to begin the first Lowell coin production. They poured coins into a machine that stamped and pressed the new designs, landing in a trunk similar to those used by immigrants and new workers for the mills in the 19th century. Superintendent Bernardo surprised the audience by promising a new Lowell quarter to all attending who were 18 or younger. This accompanied by the coin exchange available after the ceremony instilled a communal pride for the people of Lowell.