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BREAKING: Deal Struck for Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower

Friday, February 17, 2012

 

The Clock Tower dates back to 1875

Preservation Worcester has settled on an agreement in their long fight to save the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, GoLocalWorcester has learned.

“We’ve been working with the state for the past 6 or 7 years, and we’ve had a few setbacks. It’s a fantastic victory from the standpoint that last summer the entire structure was going to be demolished,” Preservation Worcester Executive Director, Deborah Packard, told GoLocalWorcester.

The Clock Tower will be photographed and measured specifically from top to bottom, and replicated as a monument. The 114-foot Clock Tower was originally part of the Worcester Lunatic Hospital, which was the nation’s 1st hospital to care for the criminally insane. The structure dates back to 1875.

“The Clock Tower monument will be a true testament to the important role Worcester has played in the treatment of mental health over the past 180 years, and will continue to play well into the future,” said Congressman James McGovern, who was an active participant in efforts to save the Tower.

The original structure was severely damaged by a fire in 1991, and was on Preservation Worcester’s Most Endangered Structures List 7 times. The Tower has been deemed structurally unsafe and slated for demolition. In 2010 the National Park Service determined the building did no qualify for historic tax credits, majorly setting back Preservation Worcester’s efforts.

“We feel like this is the best scenario we could have come up with, given that the state said it would cost $30 million to restore the whole original structure,” said Packard.

The organization met with architects for the 1st time Wednesday to discuss maintaining the exact design of the Tower, and salvaging materials from the original building.

The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Department of Mental Health will work with the City of Worcester and Preservation Worcester to develop the monument, which will stand illuminated at night against the Worcester skyline.

“DCAM is proud to be able to facilitate honoring the long standing history of public mental health care in the Commonwealth through our participation in the design and construction of this memorial clock tower,” said Division of Capital Asset management Commissioner Carole Cornelison.

“It’s a symbol of the past, the present, and the future here in Worcester,” Packard told GoLocalWorcester.

Preservation Worcester will hold a public signing ceremony of the agreement on February 24, in which Congressman James McGovern will participate.

 

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