Worcester Memorial Auditorium
Set on the west side of Lincoln Square, the Worcester Memorial Auditorium and its neighbor the Worcester County Courthouse, offer an imposing “first glance” of the city for those arriving by Route 9 and Interstates 290 and 190. Worcester Memorial Auditorium, completed in 1932, is an outstanding example of the Art Deco style and is one of the city’s most important buildings. Designed by architects Lucius W. Briggs of Worcester and Frederick C. Hirons of New York, it is notable for the high quality of its materials and detailing, both inside and out. Although this granite and limestone structure is massive and block-like in its form, its colonnade of monumental Doric columns and low relief sculptural detailing are subtly elegant and especially beautiful in the morning sun.
Inside are a large auditorium and a “Little Theatre,” sharing a single stage that can be opened to join the two spaces. At the front of the building a memorial room honoring the 9,000 Worcester citizens who served in World War I overlooks the circular World War I monument in Lincoln Square. On the upper walls are murals by Leon Kroll. The largest (57’ x 30’) depicts “people of all classes and races gathered in peace and harmony under the American flag,” while two smaller ones (25 ½’ x 16’) represent defense on “land, sea, and air.” Although the basement was modified from its original parking garage space into overflow offices and courts, the theater spaces have retained their original finishes and layouts. The Worcester Memorial Auditorium and the buildings of Lincoln Square are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Worcester’s Institutional District. The building was listed on Preservation Worcester’s Most Endangered Structures List in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2012 because of its architectural and historical significance.
In November 2010, the Worcester City Council gave the city’s administration the authority to sell the Auditorium. However, the City’s strategy is to wait until a re-use is found for the Worcester County Courthouse next door before trying to market the Auditorium, leaving the future of the Auditorium dependent on the fate of the Courthouse. The roof was recently secured to prevent further water damage. Preservation Worcester remains concerned that the building is empty and no re-development appears in sight.