Asa Waters Mansion // 1829

In 1824, prosperous gunsmith Asa Waters II set out to build the stateliest residence in the country. It took two full years to amass the necessary materials for what is now known as the Asa Waters Mansion and Mr. Waters spared no expense. Asa Waters II (1769-1841) was born in Millbury in 1813 to Asa Sr. and Sarah Waters. Asa earned the art of gunsmithing from his father, and in 1808 the junior Asa and his brother Elijah opened the Waters & Co. Armory along the banks of the Blackstone River, in what is now Millbury Center. Following the untimely death of his brother in 1814, Asa Waters carried on the business solo and secured lucrative arms contracts with the United States government. His invention of a lathe to turn gun barrels into the first seamless barrels revolutionized the manufacture of guns throughout the world, and provided his company a stockpile of cash. As a result, he hired Boston-based architect Asher Benjamin, to design a country house suitable of his stature. The mansion features two prominent facades with the primary distinguished by a colonnade of fluted two-story columns with composite capitals. The mansion remained in the Waters Family until 1929, when it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, as a rectory of a local church. In 1977 the Town of Millbury acquired the Asa Waters Mansion, and with little funding to maintain the property; in 1994, the Asa Waters Mansion had fallen into quite a bit of disrepair. The town proposed to demolish the mansion for a parking lot, but a group of locals worked together as the Asa Waters Task Force and petitioned to save the house: funds were raised, tradesmen in the community donated materials and labor. Saving the architectural landmark for generations to come.