Mechanics Hall (Worcester, Massachusetts) facts for kids

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Mechanics Hall
Mechanics Hall, Worcester MA.jpg
Address 321 Main St.
Location Worcester, MA
Public transit      Worcester Line Union Station
Construction
Built 1855
Renovated 1977

Mechanics Hall is a concert hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was built in 1857 in the Renaissance Revival style and restored in 1977.

History

Mechanics Hall, by H. D. Warner
Mechanics Hall in the 19th century

Workers in Worcester formed the Mechanics Association in 1842 to help members develop the knowledge and skills to manufacture and run machinery in the mills. In 1857 they built Mechanics Hall to house educational and cultural activities. Mechanics Hall featured a large concert hall on the third floor. Its acoustics enabled audiences to hear speakers' voices and music distinctly without benefit of the as-yet-not-invented electronic amplifier. A pipe organ was subsequently installed in 1864. Featuring meeting rooms, a library, and two halls, the building became a hub of activity, drawing speakers from Charles Dickens to Susan B. Anthony. The superb acoustics of Mechanics Hall would attract orchestras, bands, and renowned performers from Enrico Caruso to Ella Fitzgerald, Yo Yo Ma to Mel Tormé.

By the mid-20th century, downtown Worcester had declined, and the aging building fell into disfavor as a meeting place. Mechanics Hall was rented out for sporting events such as boxing, wrestling, basketball, and roller-skating. The building continued its decline, and trustees of the dwindling Mechanics Association sought to sell the property. When urban renewal threatened the hall with destruction, the Worcester Heritage Society stepped in. The community rallied around Mechanics Hall once again, raising $5 million for its restoration in 1977. Boston based architecture firm Finegold Alexander + Associates Inc completed the restoration. In reversing the decline of Mechanics Hall, Worcester halted the decline of its downtown, and the city experienced a renaissance.

The Hook Organ

Interior Mechanics Hall, dance, Worcester, MA
Mechanics Hall interior

Built in 1864 by E. & G.G. Hook, the Hook Organ is the name for the pipe organ in the Main Hall of Mechanics Hall. It has 52 stops and 3,504 pipes, and is the oldest unaltered four-keyboard organ in the Western Hemisphere. It was restored in 1982.


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