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slides: Preservation Worcester’s 2013 Most Endangered Structures

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Odd Fellows Hall is just one of Worcester's buildings named Most Endangered by Preservation Worcester.

For the past nineteen years, Preservation Worcester has published an annual list of Most Endangered Structures. The List alerts the public to threats to some of the city’s most historic treasures. It garners attention to the condition of the structures and their importance to the landscape of the city, and often serves as a catalyst for restoration and preservation.

Selected properties must be at least 50 years old, have architectural, cultural or historic significance to the landscape of the city, and be threatened by neglect, demolition, alteration, neglect, or inappropriate use.

This year, the Most Endangered Structures Committee received and considered approximately 50 nominations. After careful review, 11 were selected for their 2013 Most Endangered Structures List and 16 were selected for their confidential Watch List.

See which buildings are most threatened, in the slides below.

Nominations for 2014

Know a building that needs protection or saving? Nominate it for Preservation Worcester's 2014 Most Endangered List. Nomination forms are available online now, and may be submitted through January 10, 2014. For more information and to download forms, go here.

All photos and information about each building courtesy of Preservation Worcester.

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The Odd Fellows Home

102 Randolph Road

The Odd Fellows Home was opened in 1892 by the International Order of Odd Fellows as a nursing home. The Home was one of a number of institutional and hospital buildings opened on the outskirts of the city at the end of the 19th century.

Currently, the building is suffering from deferred maintenance. Many windows are broken, putting the interior of the property in serious jeopardy. In addition, the one-year demolition delay ordinance on the building expired April 7, 2011, meaning the property can legally be demolished.

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Central Building

322-332 Main Street

The Central Building was built in 1925 in the late Classical Revival style. It is a seven-story, steel-frame structure faced with dressed limestone. It is among the last major office blocks built downtown before the Great Depression.

The property is currently under Worcester’s one-year demolition delay ordinance. After the period of one year, the property can be demolished. Its demolition would break the continuity of the streetscape, discourage the establishment or survival of street-level retail and restaurants in the area, and would have a negative impact on properties in the area including historic Mechanics Hall.

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Worcester County Court

2 Main Street

The Worcester County Courthouse is both an outstanding city landmark and an irreplaceable part of the monumental eastern gateway to the city at Lincoln Square. Its historic site on Court Hill was the seat of Worcester County government from the construction of the first courthouse in 1732 until the completion of the new Worcester Trial Court Building further south on Main Street in 2007.

The Courthouse is currently vacant. The building was listed on Preservation Worcester’s Most Endangered Structures List in 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2012 because of its architectural and historical significance. Although its owner, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the City of Worcester; and many local organizations and private citizens are intent on finding an adaptive reuse for the building, a suitable new use or a feasible development plan have yet to be identified.

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War Memorial Auditorium

Lincoln Square

Worcester Memorial Auditorium, completed in 1932, is an outstanding example of the Art Deco style and is one of the city’s most important buildings, offering an imposing first glance of the city.

In November 2010, the Worcester City Council gave the city’s administration the authority to sell the Auditorium. However, the City’s strategy is to wait until a re-use is found for the Worcester County Courthouse next door before trying to market the Auditorium, leaving the future of the Auditorium dependent on the fate of the Courthouse.The roof was recently secured to prevent further water damage. Preservation Worcester remains concerned that the building is empty and no re-development appears in sight. 

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Ripley Block

78-86 Pleasant Street

The Ripley Block on Pleasant Street is one of the few remaining clusters of row houses within the city. Constructed of brick in 1870 with mansard roofs, bay windows, and high stoops, the five individual residences have been modified heavily throughout the years. Despite the current condition of the row houses, the original Second Empire architecture, although altered, can be seen in units 2, 3, and 4.

Unfortunately, recent extensive fire damage has diminished the outlook for this property.

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Chase Multi-Family House

114 Austin Street

The Rufus Chase House is an example of the residential architecture constructed in the Crown Hill neighborhood during the mid-19th century – a time when the Greek Revival style was predominant. Occupying a prominent site overlooking Austin Street in the Piedmont neighborhood, adjoining Crown Hill, this 1863 Greek Revival style house and accompanying freestanding 1876 gambrel-roofed barn are included in the Oxford-Crown National Register Extension District. The property is also part of the City of Worcester’s newly-created local historic district, the Crown Hill Local Historic District.

The Rufus Chase House remains neglected with the exteriors of the house and barn continuing to decline; no improvements or efforts to restore or even stabilize the house or barn are noted. The Worcester Fire Department continues to post the property as "not to be salvaged.”

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Maynard House

29 Newbury Street

The style of the Charles F. Maynard House and Attached Barn can be described as Eclectic. Built around 1886 by an unknown architect, there are also some Victorian Gothic Revival features along the rooflines of the house’s gable and front porch.

The condition of this house represents unfortunate modification and "demolition by neglect". However, it is hoped that the building’s condition will improve with a new owner: the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Preservation Worcester would like to see the agency concentrate on a full and historically appropriate stabilization, restoration, and rehabilitation of the house and barn prior to occupancy. Even as a unique property – a Gothic style single- family house with an attached barn – its value is increased by its inclusion in the newly-created Crown Hill Local Historic District. Loss of this resource would significantly weaken the district’s representation of the post-Civil War period of residential housing.

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Fitts Cottage

32  Castle Street

The Abraham Fitts Cottage, despite several architectural alterations made over the years, is an excellent example of the Second Empire style in Worcester. The building’s location, near the crest of the hill on which Oread Castle Park is built, commands views in several directions and would have been an ideal site by Victorian standards.

Years of neglect and lack of a stable tenant have taken a toll on this historic building. Despite its prominent location and its beautiful vistas, the building’s lot is filled with decades-old rubbish. The asphalt siding is covered with holes, some of which extend into the interior of the structure. The roof recently collapsed and requires immediate attention. The Castle Street Neighborhood Commission, an organization with the goal of redeveloping the Castle Street neighborhood, currently owns the house.

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Bramble Hill

757 Salisbury Street

Bramble Hill is a magnificent Georgian Revival style house built in 1901. This grand mansion has monumental columns at the front door to greet you and give you a hint of its gracious interior. Originally sited on 135 acres, it is unique for its secluded setting within Worcester’s city limits. Much of the land has been developed into Salisbury Hill, with 17 acres remaining undeveloped around the house to preserve its private setting.

Bramble Hill has recently been sold.  It has been vacant since 2007 and both the structure and the surrounding land are showing serious signs of neglect. There is evidence of interior water damage, and some interior floors have been removed and walls have been damaged. In a sign of improvement, it has been reported that the building has been winterized. In addition to the building, the grounds are also in need of cleanup. Due to its architectural and historical significance to the city of Worcester, it was placed on Preservation Worcester’s Endangered Structures List in 2011. 

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Walker Shoe Factory

28 Water Street

The J. H. and G. M. Walker Shoe Factory, located in the Winter Street Manufacturing District, was once the center of Worcester’s successful shoe manufacturing industry. The original section of the building was doubled in size by an addition on its north side in 1879, with another addition built in 1890.

The building is empty and on the façade there is a red square and white “x”, to indicate that firefighting operations will be done from the exterior only, and there will be no roof work. With the renovation of the adjacent building into canal lofts and with all the positive activity in the Canal District, this property is ripe for development. 

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Melville Shoe Warehouse

38-44 Hammond Street

The Melville Shoe Corporation Warehouse is the design of George E. Strehan, an architect at a consulting engineer firm in New York City. Built between the years of 1928 and 1930, this building was home to the Melville Shoe Corporation and Offices, a company that originated in Brooklyn, New York.

The Melville Shoe Company revolutionized the mass manufacturing and marketing of affordable footwear in 1922 when they introduced the Thom McAn Shoe line. This building was erected to serve as the principal warehouse and distribution center for the Thom McAn Company. 


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