A once-thriving shovel factory in Massachusetts, which was instrumental in the California Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad, will keep its place in history thanks in part to an affordable housing and historical preservation project. The Ames Shovel Works complex in North Easton, which at one time was slated to be demolished, is made up of 15 mostly vacant granite and wood buildings that were built from 1852 to 1928. Developed by Beacon Communities LLC, the new mixed-income community of 113 apartments will preserve the granite building exteriors and rooflines. Several buildings near the complex were designed by the prominent 19th century architect Henry Hobson Richardson, with landscapes designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The deal closed this month and construction is now underway. The project is expected to be completed by 2014.