Colantonio Completes Historic Yarn Works Renovation

First floor: before

First floor: after

Fitchburg, MA – Colantonio Inc. recently completed its renovation of the historic Fitchburg Yarn Mill for WinnCompanies’ Yarn Works Apartments. The Architectural Team (TAT) designed the project. The three-story, 182,500sf brick building is located on the banks of the Nashua River and served as one of Fitchburg’s largest textile operations for more than 60 years.

According to historical reports, the original mill was built in just five months at a cost of $600,000 using a unique wood and steel I-beam configuration. Building materials included 2 million bricks, 1 million board feet of lumber, 500 tons of steel, 7,000 tons of granite, 18 freight-car loads of cement, and 2,000 barrels of lime.

The original design allowed river water to flow through the mill’s partial earthen basement, which positioned the 65,000sf first floor in the flood plain. Colantonio’s crew removed the entire first floor and rebuilt it two feet higher with concrete slab.

The structure required extensive additional support to supplement the existing granite footings. Colantonio worked with TAT and ODEH Engineers to thoroughly examine the crawlspace foundations and develop a cost-effective solution: add small stub columns supported by the existing granite. This approach eliminated the need for additional foundations.

Restoration work included replacement of more than 280 8-ft. x 10-ft. windows; repointing and repairing the exterior brick envelope and chimneystack; and structural reinforcement to the roof. The firm replaced the damaged southern yellow pine cornice roof trim with wood fabricated and cut to match the existing design.

The building now boasts a 3,000sf common room with 17-foot tall windows, a central atrium gallery, a fitness center, and laundry facilities. Each of the 57 market-rate and 39 affordable units enjoys restored woodwork and brick features, an expansive view, and plenty of natural light.

Built in 1907, the mill was designed by noted industrial architect Frank Sheldon; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. For the past 10 years, however, it has sat vacant.