Industrial Eden was a yearlong multi-community program designed to heighten awareness of area residents to a local vanished mill village known as Haywardville. This nationally important site had gone largely unnoticed by historians, and its story largely existed as myth.
In 2014, The Preservation Collaborative, Inc., a local historic preservation firm, became determined to provide a more complete look on this hidden landmark. The Collaborative launched Industrial Eden in order to celebrate the shared impacts on the communities of Medford, Malden, Melrose and Stoneham, and to foster collaboration among these communities and to stimulate interest in a history that embraced the region. Industrial Eden has brought about a long-term commitment to preserving hidden history that ensures the legacy of this place is never lost again.
Historians Ryan D. Hayward and Dee Morris worked diligently for a year gathering archival research that poignantly illustrated the influence and impact of Haywardville. The village influenced adjacent towns through businesses that began there, and was linked to regional trade networks for silk, spices, chocolate, and tobacco. Photographs and documents uncovered during research shed new light on Haywardville residents and the village’s role as the birthplace of rubber. The project revealed a clear image of the community’s birth, life, and death, and told a radically different story than the existing myths that had been handed down for generations. It explored how Haywardville’s creation and growth serve as an example of the national trend of industrialization that started after the American Revolution and accelerated after the Civil War, as well as how the end of Haywardville is emblematic of the national conservation movement of the late nineteenth-century.
Through Industrial Eden, the Collaborative was able to re-discover the importance of four communities working together as a culturally rich environment. The program not only enlightened the audience but also inspired additional interaction between members of these communities. This interest provoked dedication to learning more about this historic site and its local, regional, and national connections.