The streets of Chapel Hill were seldom built up at the same time. In a single block, mill workers's Greek Revival Style houses from the 1830s and 1840s, high,-styled Italianate, and Second Empire merchants's houses erected mid-century and Queen Anne multi-family dwellings built for the families who lived in Chapel Hill during its last period of growth can all be found.
In addition to the many interesting architectural details crafted by local builders, there are other features of the Chapel Hill landscape to notice. Building stone from local quarries and canal beds is visible in walls and foundations. Ornamental ironwork can be seen on roofs and fences. Natural features, including old trees, and the Concord River and views from the higher elevations in Chapel Hill, are also part of the neighborhood landscape.
1. Detail, 23 Ames St., ca. 1840.
The only stone residence - Chapel Hill, 23 Ames St. was built of cut granite blocks with rubblestone infill. Although the granite was probably hauled from a nearby Chelmsford quarry, the rubble stone was obtained during excavation of Lowell’s canal beds.
2. Concord River from Lawrence Street.
The Concord River bounds the eastern edge of Chapel Hill, shortly before it empties into the Merrimack River. Long the site of water-powered mills, the river is a major visual asset to the neighborhood. Yards and gardens of Lawrence Street houses mark the former sites of grist, paper, and cotton mills.
3. A special aspect of the Lowell landscape is the many adjoining vegetable gardens found within Chapel Hill. Frequently encompassing all available yard space, by mid-summer the gardens yield large quantities of produce. Fig trees, indigenous to Mediterranean countries, have been planted by Portuguese residents who take care to protect them from New England winters. Shrubs, bulbs and other plant material enhance the small front yards.
4. Mid-19th century streets were frequently planted with trees at regular intervals to provide shade and visual relief. Although the automobile, asphalt paving and pollution have contributed to the demise of many of these trees, a few have survived in their modern urban environment.