Charles Bowker House
3 Harvard Place
Perched atop a steep hill overlooking Main Street, this turreted, multi-gabled, High Victorian Gothic style house is a picturesque downtown landmark, with its glinting slate roof and high pitched gables visible from points all around the city. Typical of its period and style, this substantial two-and-one-half story brick house is characterized by vertical lines, a complex roofline of high-pitched gables, and smooth walls accented with textural decorative brickwork and black brick banding. The architect has not been identified.
Built in 1876 for industrialist Sewell Bowker, inventor of the hat blocking machine, the house remained in the Bowker family until 1923. From the Bowker family, it passed to several owners and mortgage companies. A later resident of the house was Edwin B. Luce, a well-known and highly esteemed Worcester photographer, whose large photographic archive is now part of the collection of the Worcester Historical Museum.
A recent owner’s long-standing plans to restore the fire-damaged roof and gutted interior were never realized. Today the property is under the oversight of a trustee responsible for monitoring its unstable ownership. As a symbol of 19th century Worcester entrepreneurship, and possessing both landmark character and sturdiness of construction, this once proud residence is deserving of preservation.