Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gettin Educated at Worcester Academy

Worcester Academy was found in 1834 as the Worcester County Manual Training School by a group of Baptists. Their intent was to establish "an academy that would give the poor boy an opportunity for liberal education". A 60 acre farm was purchased and a Mansion House and chapel was built which was located on Main St. in Worcester. By 1854 the Academy is was in dire financial straits and sold its Main St campus to Eli Thayer, who moved the Academy to the American Antiquarian Society (which is a National Historic Landmark). In 1869 Isaac Davis purchased the Union Hill campus (the place where all the photos were taken) and became the Academy's first president.

On the land that Isaac purchased was a building constructed in 1852 that served as the Worcester Medical College and then became the home of the Ladies' Collegiate Institute and then in 1864 became the Dale General Hospital to care for the wounded Union soldiers. The lady's school was crushed by the panic of 1857.

In 1869 the building was renamed Davis Hall and served as classrooms and a dormitory for Worcester Academy. Unfortunately Davis Hall was razed and replaced by modern day buildings that are not included in the historic district. Although Davis was the first president, Daniel W Abercrombie serving as principal from 1892 to 1918 was probably the most important figure in the school's architectural history. Under his leadership all of the main buildings were built during his tenure.

 As you get edumacated during your readings of WA, you will see the buildings are in wonderful condition and great examples of Victorian Institutional architecture.  For those of you that are interested when we talk about Victorian architecture, we are really referring to the reign of Queen Victoria and the time period when the buildings were erected.

The Academy is right off Providence St and you enter via the main gates. As you can there is some construction going on. Directly in front of you is Walker Hall and immediately to the right is the Abercrombie House.

Gates Worcester Academy

The Abercrombie House is the only wood structure on the campus. It serves as the headmaster house and was built in 1887 for Daniel Abercrombie. It is considered a Victorian House in the Queen Anne style. It is not part of the National Register Historic District.

Abercrombie House

Worcester Academy Abercrombie House

Walker Hall was built in 1889. It serves as classrooms, administrative offices and meeting rooms.

Walker Hall

Walker Hall

Walker Hall - Worcester Academy

The Megaron fits between Walker and Adams Hall. It was built in 1906 and was built to serve as a social activities building for the campus.


Adams Hall was built in 1892 and served as the dining hall.

Adams Building

Next up is Dexter Hall also built in 1892. This place was the dormitory.

Dexter Hall

Dexter Hall Doorway

Kingsley Lab built in 1897 supports the science curriculum at Worcester Academy.

Kingsley Lab

The Historic District includes only Walker, Megaron, Adams, Dexter and Kingsley Lab. All of the other buildings are not part of the nomination to the district. That does not make them any less significant of spectacular.

The Warner Memorial was built in 1929 by Harry Warner as a memorial to his son Lewis who attended Worcester Academy. So who is the Harry Warner? Yup the one and only movie guy. I best remember Warner Bros by the logo at the end of Looney Tunes, but they are much bigger than that. The theater is by far the most stunning building on the campus.

Warner Memorial

Last building is Daniels Gym which was built in 1915.

Daniels Gym

The Academy started out as a place for poor kids to get a better education, today it is a vibrant private school serving grades 6 thru 12. Not sure it still fills the vision of the original Baptists who founded the school with tuition starting at 29K and up to 59K, wowwie zowwie

Worcester Academy Map

1 comment:

Runner said...

Great photos! I had no idea of this academy's existence, yet I worked for nearly 10 years just a block away at St. Vincent Hospital! Looking at Google satellite view, looks like they've torn down the original hospital building.