61 Harvard Street
Built between 1836 and 1838 for wealthy Worcester citizen Stephen Salisbury II, the Neo-Classical/Greek Revival style Salisbury House was designed by Worcester’s first major architect, Elias Carter. This grand residence has been a city landmark since the time of its construction – easily identified in panoramic landscape views because of its hilltop site and featured in published local histories as a major site. Simple in its elegance, with pilaster-panel treatment of its outer walls, Doric columned porches on its east and west facades, and laurel wreaths encircling the oculi just below the eaves, the house is also notable inside for its graceful circular stairway, airy double parlor, and substantial woodwork.
Stephen Salisbury II was known for his interest in all that concerned the welfare of Worcester and for his liberal philanthropy. His son, Stephen, III, who inherited the house upon his father’s death in 1884, continued in his father’s generous ways. He was responsible for donation of land surrounding his home to city institutions, such as the Worcester Historical Museum, the Worcester Woman’s Club, the Worcester Art Museum, resulting in the creation of what is today recognized as the city’s Institutional District. Salisbury played an important role in the founding of the Worcester Art Museum in 1896 and left the Salisbury House to the museum upon his death in 1905. The house was part of the museum’s school until it was bought by the American Red Cross in 1941, serving as the organization’s Worcester headquarters until 2004.
A major landmark, the Salisbury House is in need of careful attention and regular maintenance.
Because of the great historical and architectural significance of the Salisbury House, the current unpaid taxes and lack of routine maintenance on both the structure and the grounds are particularly concerning. The historical character of this property and that of the adjoining 18th century Salisbury Mansion and Salisbury Store is unfortunately been diminished by its location in a parking lot that is expected to be part of the site development for the Worcester Memorial Auditorium and Worcester County Courthouse.