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Walking Cinema: Mill Town Chronicles


Teaser for a multi-city Industrial Revolution mystery based on findings in Lawrence, MA.

About the Project
In the wake of WALKING CINEMA: MURDER ON BEACON HILL, the Untravel team was interested in exploring further this idea of an open-air history museum, but in a site where history can impact present-day social issues. One of the most compelling organizations we met with was The City of Lawrence, an historic mill town in northeastern Massachusetts and home of the most concentrated Latino population in the state. Lawrence is a unique site to behold with its behemoth, mostly-vacant brick mills straddling the Merrimack River. The City of Lawrence is in a multi-decade process of redesigning its mill buildings and urban core. They see Untravel's mobile storytelling approach as a compelling means to bring locals and visitors into the planning conversation and relevant history of this area.

Challenges and Solutions

Signage for the tour along the canals that powered the mills.
Stories on signage continue through the mobile app.

• Work closely with local talent and production team to tell the story of America's first large-scale industrial disaster in a relevant way to area teens, visiting history buffs, park service stakeholders, and urban planners.
• Turn gargantuan, semi-abandoned mill structures into digital storytelling stages
• Guide a novice production team through the phases of mobile application development
• Work with an extremely limited budget and a city emerging for a century of decline

The Untravel Team immersed itself in Lawrence's current streetscape, historical archives, and local civic groups to find a foothold into the story of the 1860 Pemberton Mill Fire, in which hundreds of immigrant workers were killed. We interviewed relatives of the deceased, cast local teenagers as voiceover artists, garnered digtial assets from paper-based archives, scripted and produced animations for the project. We also made sure the street signage provided hooks into the mobile narrative.

Mill Town Chronicles Series

Towards A Multi-City/Platform Story
Archival materials help us trace generations of a family through the industrial revolution and from town to town.

The resulting videos and street signage in Lawrence can be viewed at the Tour Lawrence Website. The video on the Summary tab is a composite of work we did for the project. The Untravel Team is most excited about how this tense story revealed the original design of the city as a water-powered machine. We are envisioning a multi-town series of stories that use similar factory settings to tell the story of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent labor reform.








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