Ferrous Site


The park at the Ferrous site is the newest park along the Spicket River Greenway. It is located in the heart of Lawrence's Mill District at the confluence of the Spicket and Merrimack Rivers. This is a $2.75 million project and the park is designed for passive recreation, educational/interpretive programs, and events. It is a model for urban ecological restoration. Increasing the quality of the riverfront habitat and using landform as art were priorities in the design.




For over 15 years, Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) worked in partnership with residents, the City of Lawrence, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and with community partners to establish a park at the Ferrous Site. The Ferrous Site is located at the confluence of the Merrimack and Spicket Rivers in the North Canal National Historic District. The North Canal and the lower locks waterfall (relics from Lawrence’s industrialization) form the site’s northern boundary. Constructed in 1845, this infrastructure, which has helped provide the water that powered the mills, was spread out over sixty-acres and supported the growth of Lawrence. Prior to construction, the site was comprised of a large sand castings pile from a former foundry that had been colonized over the past 20 years with successional vegetation. This sand provided a wonderful opportunity to explore landform, remediation and restoration. With support from the Commonwealth's Signature Urban Parks program, the Ferrous Site was restored to realize its tremendous ecological, historic and scenic potential. The City of Lawrence, the Federal Government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, adjacent property owners, and most importantly, the community, had identified redevelopment of the Ferrous Site as a top priority. It supports city, state, and Federal redevelopment and economic initiatives that have been implemented over the past three decades to create a new gateway to Lawrence’s North Canal District and downtown. More importantly it supports efforts to transform the entire North Canal mill district into a mixed use, healthy, thriving transit oriented development. Community outreach for the project began in the late 1990s and gained momentum in 2002 when GWL, Lawrence CommunityWorks, and the City of Lawrence joined forces to launch the Reviviendo Gateway Initiative. At the same time the state implemented its Urban River Visions program in Lawrence, which helped the community develop the concept for the Spicket River Greenway with the Ferrous Site serving as the Greenway’s capstone.

Present and Future

The project formally opened in the spring of 2016.  Project design components and related benefits include:

Ferrous Site Rendering.jpg

  • Ferrous Terrace: This overlook at the historic canal spillway has a pavilion providing shelter for summertime education programs and community gatherings.
  • Wild Arboretum: Rows of trees that thrive in urban conditions and provide food for a range of animals.  The trees species will be labelled to facilitate teaching about urban ecology and urban forestry.
  • Ferrous Hill:  The sand castings from the former industrial foundry adjacent to the park have been reshaped as a meadow mound with panoramic views. 
  • Wild Woodland: Remnant woodland habitat representative of the species growing on site prior to park development.
  • River Edge Forest: Preserved and restored riparian habitat along the Spicket and Merrimack rivers.
  • Pathways: Central to the park’s design is the creation of a looping pathway network to provide safe and universally accessible circulation that provides excellent views of the rivers and the waterfall at the end of the north canal.
  • Rain Garden: This green infrastructure will intercept and infiltrate stormwater from a 50 year storm event from the adjacent industrial property. Previously the water was discharged directly into the Merrimack River via asphalt swales.














The park at the Ferrous Site is designed for passive/contemplative recreation, picnicking with families, and exploring the natural world in the city.  It is similar to other new park projects in Lawrence, which use park-development to spur economic development by resolving brownfield constraints. 



This project is funded in part by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust www.state.ma.us/eea/met.

For more information, please contact Brad Buschur, Project Director at Groundwork Lawrence 50 Island Street, Entry B, Lawrence, MA 01840 978-974-0770 |