Ayer lofts Condominiums
A private developer, Edward A. Fish Associates, Inc. of Boston, MA, converted the building to residential units,
retail space for a gallery. The project was completed in spring of 2000.
Actually two buildings, the Ayer Lofts consists of the Barker Building and the J.C. Ayer Company Building. The Barker Building was built between 1890-95 by Horace Barker to house a variety of commercial and light industrial uses. It is typical of buildings that were built along Middle Street in the late 1880s/early 1890s when the street's smaller buildings were rapidly replaced by four and five story structures built to serve mostly wholesale service and light-industrial trade. Through the years the Barker Building housed many businesses including printers, a brass foundry, and a harness manufacturer.
The J.C. Ayer Company Building was also built between 1890-95 and along with 165 Market Street (1858-59), housed one of Lowell's largest patent medicine companies. Ayer's company used the Market Street building as its laboratory and the Middle Street building as its office. Ayer was instrumental in the development of Lowell's patent medicine industry in the 19th century when he marketed his "Cherry Pectoral" and Ayer Cathartic Pills" beginning in the 1840s. By the time of his death in 1878, his company was one of the largest non-textile businesses in the city.
The company continued to expand and operate until it went out of business in the 1930s but in its nine decades of operation, it spread Ayer's, and Lowell's, name worldwide. "Ayer's Cherry Pectoral," "Ayer's Hair Vigor," and other products were sold around the world, and millions of copies of Ayer's Almanac were distributed each year, free of charge, in eight languages including Chinese. After the company went out of business, the building housed a variety of light manufacturing companies up through the 1980s.