Main Street Virtual Tour

Map Tour Main

1. Elwood Adams Block
2. The Old State Mutual Building
3. Worcester Five Cent Savings Bank
4. Commerce Building
5. Slater Building
6. City Hall
7. Worcester City Common
8. Glass Tower
9. Harrington Corner

10. Burnside Building
11. Mechanics Hall
12. Central Exchange
13. Wesley United Methodist Church
14. First Unitarian Church
15. Worcester County Courthouse
16. Boy's Club
17. The Worcester World War I Memorial
18. The Memorial Auditorium

1. #156 Elwood Adams Block (1830). Vernacular and carpenter built, this commercial block is the oldest continuously used commercial block in the city. It was built as a two and one half story building which was enlarged to its present four storey height around 1865. Unchanged since its 1865 remodeling, the block has a facade of six bays' width, divided by a central pier into two sections of three bays' width. At the first story are two storefronts.
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2. #240 The Old State Mutual Building (1870). One of the most elegant examples of Second Empire style buildings left standing in Worcester, this was the first headquarters for State Mutual Life Assurance Company (now Allmerica Financial). With granite facade, central pavillion, Ionic pilasters, mansard roof and cresting, this structure is important to the history of the City. Not only is it important because of the men who were associated with it and the company for which it was erected, but also because it is unusual in Worcester to find that all three buildings built by a company as old as State Mutual are still in existence.
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3. #316 Worcester Five Cent Savings Bank (1891). Romanesque Revival style made popular by Stephen Earle, one of Worcester’s most prolific architects, architectual historians call it "one of the most unusual and individual buildings in downtown Worcester." Its rounded corner bay joining the structure's main body by a curved brick wall and the window trim of bricks with carved ornemants are particularly striking. The use of limestone and buff brick was also unusual in early Worcester.
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4. #340 Commerce Building (1897). Peabody and Stearns' Renaissance Revival, Worcester’s first skyscraper, built as the second State Mutual Building when the business outgrew #240 Main. It is a nine story, steel-frame structure faced with dressed white marble. The building is of extremely ornate Renaissance Revival design. It was regarded as "the first modern office building in the city" at the time of its construction. Planned as a lavish corporate symbol, it contained a large interior court with a grand staircase and an archaded loggia at the second story.
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5. #390 Slater Building (1907). Designed by Frosts, Briggs and Chamberlain, Colonial Revival built to honor Samuel Slater who is credited with starting the Industrial Revolution by carrying the plans for his cotton mill (Slater Mill in Pawtucket RI along the shores of the Blackstone River for which Worcester is the headwaters) across the ocean in his head as a stowaway. Constructed by the Norcross Brothers Construction Company, the Slater Building was the city's "second highest building or skyscraper" in 1907. It is steel framed, ten stories high, rising from a two story base of rusticated granite piers with an ornately carved entry on its Main Street facade. Upon completion, the building had storefronts along its street frontage, an arcade of stores at the second story and offices on the top eight floors.
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6. City Hall (1895-98). A fine example of Renaissance Revival style dedicated in 1898, fifty years after Worcester’s designation as a city. It was designed by Peabody and Stearns of Boston and built by Norcross Brothers Construction Company of Worcester in the manner of an Italian “palazzo” or palace for the people of the City of Worcester. Its grand style is continued inside with a central staircase, iron balustrade and grand foyer on the upper level. It was built on the site of the Old South Meeting House, on which steps patriot printer Isaiah Thomas read the Declaration of Independence for the first time in New England on July 14, 1776. A bronze star on the sidewalk commemorates the event.
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7. Worcester City Common. From the very beginning this area has been used as a common. In the early days, it was a pasture, burying ground, fairground, militia-training ground and market day site containing twenty acres. Later, the North-South trains bisected it. Today, twenty acres has shrunk to five and the area is used as a gathering ground for fairs and celebrations. It contains a partially-restored early burial ground with a memorial to Colonel Timothy Bigelow, who trained a company of minutemen here and answered the call to join the revolt against the British at Concord and Lexington in 1775. At the northeast corner of the Common is the Soldiers Monument, a Civil War Memorial. Also present are memorials to the heroes of World War II and the Vietnam conflict. On the north side of the Common is the monument to the Irish immigrants who built the Blackstone Canal and the railroad, and worked in the factories during the boom time of the mid-eighteenth century.
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8. Glass Tower. Main Street has always been in the same place since it was a Native American Indian path. Grand colonial homes once occupied the site of the Glass Tower (Sovreign Bank Building). This skyscraper was built in 1974 as an example of what could be achieved by the urban renewal movement of the 1960's and 70's.
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9. #427 Harrington Corner (1850). Designed by Elbridge Boyden in the Italianate style, this buiilding once held the photography studio of Benjamin J. Maxham who photographed many notable people before the Civil War, including Henry David Thoreau whose signature portrait was taken here. In addition, portrait painter E.T. Billings had his studio here. Billings painted many of the fine portraits hanging in Mechanics Hall, including those of Abraham Linclon and William Lloyd Garrison.
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10. #335-43 Burnside Building (1880). Designed by architects Bradlee, Winslow and Wetherell in an eclectic Neo-Romanesque style with a recently restored exterior. It is a five story brick block with ornate standstone trim. Designed as a row building, the structure's Main Street facade originally contained storefronts (first story) and plate-glass display windows (second story) set in cast iron surrounds.The original arrangement is now covered in modern materials. Among the larger commercial blocks of the 1800's, the Burnside Building was built by the heirs of Samuel Burnside, a local lawyer, on the site of an earlier two story commercial building.
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11. #321 Mechanics Hall (1857). Elbridge Boyden designed this pre-Civil War building in the Renaissance Revival style. It served as Worcester’s cultural center from 1857 until 1933 when Memorial Auditorium was built. After 1933, Mechanics Hall fell into disrepair and misuse until it was restored in 1975. It is now considered one of the best small concert halls in the country with many famous musicians choosing to record here. Make sure to visit the office so that you can see the Great Hall.
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12. #301-315 Central Exchange (1896). Architect W.G. Preston designed this Classical Revival style commercial office building. Although the building's most prominent elevation faces Main Street, it has a symmetrical facade arranged around a central court facing Walnut Street. The first two stories of the Main Street elevation contain metal storefronts, embossed with a variety of classical motifs, all in original condition.
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13. #100 Wesley United Methodist Church (1923). An imposing example of late Gothic Revival style, this church building was begun in July 1925 and dedicated on May 8, 1927. Its congregation was formed in 1923 from the merged congregations of Grace and Trinity churches. Early in 1924, the congregation of 2500 members decided to build a new church, commissioned the Boston architectural firm of Carlson and Coolidge to design a building and, in October 1924, accepted the plans of that firm for the present building. Prominent among the building's details is a rose window designed and made by Charles J. Connick of Boston.
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14. #90 First Unitarian Church, 1951, (rebuilt 1939) Modeled after St. Martin's in the Fields, London (1721-27) by James Gibbs, First Unitarian reflects the influence of New Haven's Center Church on the Green (1812-14) by Asher Benjamin and Ithiel Towne. First Unitarian's profile on Main Street shows a stately Corinthian portico, undecorated pediment and tall spire. The spire starts from a square base showing a clock on three sides, moves to a bell level adorned at the corners with Corinthian columns and terminates with a slender octagonal spire framed by a balustrade. The spire with its clock has been recently restored following a near-disastrous fire in 2001.
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15. #2 Worcester County Courthouse (1843, 1878, 1898 and 1954). The south wing is its oldest section, dating from 1843. A Greek revival section was added in 1878. The present Classical Revival structure was built in 1898 and designed by Andrews, Jacques, and Rantoul to incorporate the earlier structures. Their design removed the Courthouse's portico, constructed the present Main Street facade and added the copper cresting throughout. At present, the expansion of 1898-99 remains in original condition. A major addition built in 1954 across the rear of the Courthouse gave it ample frontage on Harvard Street. Architects for this were Stuart W. Briggs and Cornelius W. Buckley. This site has served as the seat of Worcester County government since the county's formation in 1731-33.
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16. Lincoln Square, Worcester Boy's Club Building (1928-30). The Worcester Boy's Club Building is a three story brick structure of Georgian Revival design built in 1928-30 (now known as Worcester Vocational School). The facade is concavely curved corresponding to the street in front of it. It is divided by Ionic pilasters into six bays of equal width arranged symmetrically about a slightly wider, center-modillioned cornice and balustrade at the roof. The main entry to the building is framed by an elaborate limestone surround with consoles supporting a broken, segmental pediment. Side elevations resemble the facade in their finish and details. The club house was the second built for the Boy's Club which had a membership of 5,300 in 1928. The building occupies part of the original site of the Salisbury Mansion.
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17. Lincoln Square, Worcester World War One Memorial (1935). The Memorial consists of a circular stone platform with a flagpole at its center. The eastern half of the platform contains a semi-circular bench and wall which bear bas-reliefs and inscriptionsthat include the names of the major battles of World War I. This memorial was dedicated in November 1935 and was designed and built under the supervision of the World War I Memorial Commission.
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18. Lincoln Square, Memorial Auditorium (1931-32). This is one of Worcester's latest and most imposing Classical Revival buildings. Set on a base of "Deer Island" granite, the upper portion of the structure is faced with dressed, Indiana limestone, decorated with a variety of classical ornamentation much of which is stylized bas-relief in the manner of the Art Deco style.
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