Blaze destroys Central Market

Our hearts go out to the Arsenault family whose Portuguese Market was destroyed in a four-alarm fire yesterday in Lowell’s Back Central neighborhood. Maria Arsenault lost her father, who was upstairs doing repair work in an apartment when the blaze started.

It was just about a month ago that a busload of people visited Maria’s Central Market as part of our Lowell Folklife Series‘ ethnic market tour. Maria welcomed us in the to three-room store and served Portuguese sweet bread and hard cheese, as we asked questions, toured the market, and purchased Portuguese delicacies.

Below are a few photos taken earlier this fall.


Banjo music before bluegrass? Find out more

When Lowell’s textile mills were clacking, what parlor music was popular? Come join us for a musical journey back in time, to find out. This was a time when if you wanted to hear music, you had to play it yourself.  The  Lowell Folklife Series presents “Classic Style Banjo Concert: The Lost Art of America’s Instrument” on Saturday November 17th at 8:00 p.m. in the Visitor Center theater of Lowell National Historical Park.

Classic style banjo playing was popular in the 1830s and 40s, and became somewhat of a virtuosic tradition by the 1880s. Originally played on gut strings, this parlor music has a classical feel to it.


Seasoned musicians Peter LaBau (banjo) and Mitch Nelin (mandocello) will deliver an entertaining evening of music interpsersed with stories of a nearly vanished musical tradition.

The 8:00 p.m. concert is free and open to the public. For directions, click here.