Design of new National Park Service quarter
The design for a new Lowell quarter.

Lowell Sun
By Aaron Curtis

LOWELL -- In a few months, a big part of Lowell's story will appear in pockets across the country, woven into a design on the flip-side of a quarter.

The Lowell National Historical Park quarter -- part of the U.S. Mint's America the Beautiful Quarter Series -- displays the image of a mill girl, working at a power loom with its prominent circular bobbin battery. Behind her, a piece of the city's skyline, including a smoke stack and the Boott Mill clock tower, can be seen through a window.

"The clock tower, important not only because it's emblematic of Lowell, but that clock tower also represents how the Industrial Revolution changed people's idea of what time was, coming from the farms and the rhythms of nature, and into this new very regimented time-controlled world," said park ranger Dave Byers, the Lowell National Historical Park's liaison with the U.S. Mint for the quarter program.

The coin's image is right on the money in representing Lowell, according to Byers and Ellen Anstey, the manager for Administration and Engagement for the Tsongas Industrial History Center.

The design for the quarter, set for circulation in February, was unveiled Tuesday during the American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money in Philadelphia. The design's development was a thorough process leading up to Tuesday.

The American the Beautiful Quarters Series was authorized in 2008. With the state quarter release coming to an end, the U.S. Mint chose to issue quarters representing a national park or other national site from each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories. Starting in 2010, the Mint scheduled release of five new quarters each year.

Then-Governor Deval Patrick was approached by the U.S. Mint to determine which Massachusetts-based site should be represented on the quarter. Patrick put out more than 100 different historic sites for the public to vote on.

"At the time I knew about this, I encouraged everybody to vote for Lowell National Historical Park," said Anstey, from Philadelphia, shortly after Tuesday's coin unveiling.

Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial finished first in the voting. However, it was later deemed ineligible, as it is not a federal site, Anstey said. The other sites finishing high in the rankings were the House of Seven Gables in Salem, and the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston. But the site finishing second place in the voting was Lowell National Historical Park.

"There are lots of really great sites with great stories to tell," Byers said. "So it's really an honor to be chosen among those."

With the Mill City site chosen, next came the design process.

Numerous images and documents capturing Lowell were shared with the U.S. Mint for artistic development, Anstey said. The design selected was chosen from 18 finalists.

"Each of those finalists depicted a wide-range of different elements of Lowell's story," Byers said. "This particular design we are very pleased with because it captures a lot of different stories in a pretty compact space."

Aside from the image captured on the quarter, inscriptions include "Massachusetts," "2019," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM," Latin for "Out of many, one." There's also simply "Lowell," stated across the top of the quarter's reverse side.

"It's an exciting time for the park, obviously because the park is what is featured, but also for the city," Byers said. "The inscription on the quarter doesn't say Lowell National Historic Park, it says Lowell. This is going to be in the pockets of people across the country who will look at the quarter and say 'Lowell, what is that place about?'"

The Mint will release the quarters at an event staged in Lowell during early February. The venue and date for the event have yet to be determined, but will take place on a weekday, allowing Lowell students to attend.

Attendees 18 and younger will get a free Lowell quarter from the U.S. Mint. All other attendees can exchange $10 for a roll of quarters that brandish the Mill City's story.

For more about the Lowell quarter, including line art of the design, visit the park website at