Cumberland (population 31,840) was incorporated in 1746, with settlement focused on the area's abundant sources of water power where manufacturing could thrive. The resulting mill villages are the focal points for Cumberland's historic buildings, and the town has designated four historic districts that are village-centered.
Self-guided walking tours are available for the village of Arnold Mills, which has retained much of its 19th-century character, and Valley Falls, site of the most extensive textile manufacturing in Cumberland during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The city has undertaken several preservation projects, including development of a riverfront heritage park incorporating the remains of the Valley Falls mill.
One of the most significant and successful projects has been the creation of the Blackstone River Theatre. Once a Unity Mason Lodge (1928), the historic building has gone from a state of severe disrepair to being a first-class, 200-seat cultural/educational venue.
To advance the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor's cultural interpretation mission, the Blackstone River Theatre presents programming that links interpretation of valley culture to the traditional/folk arts agenda of the theatre.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.