Tichnor Quality Views

Worcester Memorial Auditorium (& Central Congregational Church)

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Worcester Memorial Auditorium, officially dedicated in 1933, was built to honor the city's World War I veterans. It was designed by the architects Lucius W. Briggs of Worcester and Frederic C. Hirons of New York City. Although the columns on this building announce its Classical Revival style, the setting on a steep hill leading up Highland Street and the low extensions on the north and south sides detract somewhat from its "classic" proportions. Nonetheless, its presence on Lincoln Square is weighty and dignified.

On the upper element of the entablature are inscribed these words.
"To honor the service in war of her sons and daughters and to nourish in peace their spirit of sacrifice a grateful city erected this building." [ Chief Justice Arthur P. Rugg ]

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Both the interior and exterior of the building are adorned with many Art Deco features, including the two examples shown above. It also houses the mighty Kimball Pipe Organ, a magnificent instrument equipped with 6,853 pipes over 107 ranks that, quite unlike so many other vintage organs around the world, has not been modified since it debuted here in 1933.

The Central Mural, 57 x 30 Feet

The Central Mural, 57 x 30 Feet

This imposing building also holds within it a stunning set of three large murals painted by Leon Kroll. It is impossible to grasp the scale and impact of Kroll's work without visiting the site, but the detail images below may give a sense of his ambition for this project.

Detail: Center Mural

Detail: Center Mural

Detail: Left Mural [ 16 x 25.5 Feet ]

Detail: Left Mural [ 16 x 25.5 Feet ]

In a tragic irony, these murals were dedicated on May 28, 1941, barely six months prior to the bombing at Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into the Second World War.

Worcester Memorial Auditorium - July 4, 2015

Worcester Memorial Auditorium - July 4, 2015

Over the course of the last 85 years, the Auditorium has hosted a wide range of events, from civic celebrations and high school graduations to Holy Cross basketball games and roller derby competitions. Among the almost uncountable number of concerts held here was Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review in 1975 (at which Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell also appeared). Today the building sits empty, unused since 1999, with an uncertain future. However, a substantial city-funded study is now underway to determine what can and should be done to preserve it for future generations.

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REFERENCES

(1) Architecture & Design - Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System
(2) Planning & Construction - Worcester Chapter, American Guild of Organists
(3) Justice Arthur P. Rugg - Memorial: Mass.Gov Website
(4) Rolling Thunder Review - Joni Mitchell Library
(5) 2017 - 2018 Feasibility Study - Worcester Telegram & Gazette [ Paywall ]

THE CARD

PUB. BY PERKINS & BUTLER, INC., WORCESTER, MASS
"TICHNOR QUALITY VIEWS" REG U.S. PAT. OFF.
MADE ONLY BY TICHNOR BROS., INC. BOSTON, MASS.
[ 63322 ]
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many thanks to Larry Haley for information on the proper architectural terminology.

Boy's Club - I have no pets now . . .

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The Worcester Boy's Club at Lincoln Square was opened in 1930 to serve the Club's rapidly expanding membership in the city. After a fundraising effort that collected almost $450,000 (roughly $6.5 million in current dollars) the building was constructed on property that had previously been the site of Salisbury Mansion, which was moved just up the hill and now sits at 40 Highland Street. The World War I memorial in front of the Club was also later relocated slightly and its left edge is now just visible in the far right side of the image below.

Boy's Club Building (Voke School): October 7, 2014

Boy's Club Building (Voke School): October 7, 2014

The architectural firm for this simplified Neo-Georgian structure was Frost, Chamberlain and Edwards, a well-known local firm that also designed many other significant buildings in the city. After the Boy's Club abandoned the building, it was incorporated into the neighboring "Voke School" complex . . . which explains, but does not excuse, the ugly block lettering seen in the image above. In 2006, the city completed a new Worcester Technical High School and moved all of its vocational programs to that facility. Since that time, numerous attempts have been made to entice a developer for this building but it currently remains closed.

Sent to: Miss Marilyn Stevens
Address: Beckemeyer, Illinois
Dear Marilyn
Thanks for the lovely card. I was glad to hear from you again.
I have no pets now as my little dog died.
Marilyn C.

Postmark: 08/11/1944 - Worcester Mass.

Postmark: 08/11/1944 - Worcester Mass.

THE MYSTERY

  • According to the City Assessor, this building was completed in 1915, but that's when the other Boy's Club on Ionic Avenue was opened. The Assessor also says that it's located at 16 Salisbury Street (which must be correct), although none of the property lines currently abut that street. The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System provides a definitive opening date of 1930 and gives the location simply as Lincoln Square.

THE SENDER

Knowing that the recipient of this card was 15 years old at the time suggests that sender was roughly the same age. This is further affirmed by the direct, unemotional, and plainspoken report, "I have no pets now as my little dog died." For a young teen, that event was probably quite heartbreaking but, in the midst of a global war, the daily drumbeat of reported deaths must have changed perspectives for everyone who remained at home . . . waiting.

THE RECIPIENT

Marilyn Stevens appears in the 1940 Federal Census, residing with her father, mother and older brother in Beckemeyer, Illinois. She was born on December 31, 1927 and, based on all evidence, lived there for her entire life. Her brother John joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and was almost certainly serving overseas when this card was sent. Marilyn (Stevens) Bromley died in 2002, just shy of her 75th birthday and is buried in Saint Anthony's Cemetery, Beckemeyer, Illinois.

REFERENCES
(1) 1940 Federal Census - Ancestry.com

The Card

PUB. BY PERKINS & BUTLER INC., WORCESTER MASS.
"TICHNOR QUALITY VIEWS" REG U.S. PAT. OFF.
MADE ONLY BY TICHNOR BROS. INC., BOSTON, MASS.
[63319]