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.