One of the city’s most iconic buildings, The Worcester Memorial Auditorium, is on the road to redevelopment. Sitting at the edge of Lincoln Square, this historic five story building was designed by Worcester Architect Lucius Briggs alongside Frederick C. Hirons of New York City. The building was completed in 1933 and was meant to honor the 355 Worcester residents who died at battle during World War I. The building was the first of its kind in Worcester and was the first auditorium in the city. Over the years it has served the community as an excellent performing arts venue and has hosted concerts, games and ceremonies of all kinds.
The building features a Classical Revival exterior, a beautifully ornamented limestone facade and a grand staircase in the front leading up to the main entrance. Massive doric style columns tower over the front entry giving the front facade a strong and prominent look. Ornamentation is visible on all of the facades which contributes to the classical look of the structure. The building’s interior features an Art Deco Style, a main auditorium space that is 31,000 square feet which seats 3,508 people, a Kimball Pipe Organ along with a smaller space called the Little Theater which seats 675 people. The building also houses a memorial chamber commemorating those who lost their lives in World War I, which has three murals done by Leon Kroll; most notably “Shine of the Immortal”.
Currently the building sits vacant, deteriorating as the years pass. From water damage to deteriorating facades, it will take quite an overhaul to bring life back into this magnificent structure. With the help of the Architectural Heritage Foundation, the building may have found a new use. Being such a large building with 165,000 square feet of space available, it is being proposed to be revitalized into a mixed use complex including performance venues, educational spaces, office space and even retail. The new development will engage the community in new spaces focused around technology, education, digital media and much more. The revitalization of this building will benefit from the historic tax credit program with the National Park Service and will retain much of its historic character into its future. With a combination between its historic architectural fabric and the new contemporary design renovations that the project will include, it will be one of the most unique buildings the city has ever seen.
While originally built for the community of Worcester to come together and share moments, it is nice to see the same vision for the future state of the building. Lots of work and funding is what will ultimately kickstart this project, but there is no doubt that it will be a worthwhile effort contributing to the revitalization of the city. Whether it’s a performance, conference or a casual visit, your next trip to the Aud will surely be an unforgettable one.
Photo 1: Worcester Memorial Auditorium, Worcester Massachusetts by John Phelan _on Wikimedia Commons. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Worcester_Memorial_Auditorium,_MA.jpg
Photo 2: steps and carvings by Liz West_on Flickr