Worcester Massachusetts, 1890

WORCESTER, the capital of Worcester County, is an enterprising mercantile and manufacturing city 44 miles west-by-southwest of Boston, 43 miles northwest of Providence, and 53 miles northeast-by-east of Springfield. Its latitude is 42° 16´ 17´´ north, and its longitude 71° 48´ 13´´ west. The city is the centering point of six railroads, namely, the Boston and Albany Railroad, the Norwich and Worcester (leased by the New York and New England Railroad), the Worcester and Nashua, the Providence and Worcester, the Worcester and Fitchburg, and the Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad. With these roads entering at various points of the compass, transportation facilities are afforded convenient to the outlying villages. These are Lake View, Quinsigamond, Barbers (which are the post-offices), Barnardville, Blithewood, Bloomingdale, Greendale, Jamesville, Leesville, New Worcester, Northville, Tatnuck, Trowbridgeville, East Worcester, South Worcester and Worcester Junction. The Union Passenger Station at Worcester, of hewn granite, is one of the handsomest and best-equipped stone structures of the kind in the country.

The adjoining towns are West Boylston on the northeast corner, with Royalston nearly in contact [Boylston, actually]; Shrewsbury on the east; Grafton at the southeast angle; Millbury and Auburn on the south; Leicester on the west of the southern section, succeeded by a corner of Paxton; while Holden lies along the northwest line. The form of the town is quite irregular. The area is about 36 square miles, of which 20,835 acres are assessed land. The woodland embraces 2,923 acres; containing a variety of trees, with a large proportion of chestnut in the eastern part. The geological structure of the territory consists of the St. John's group, Merrimack schist, and ferruginous gneiss, in which occur steatite, beds of clay and peat and of iron-ore. The land is charmingly diversified by rounded hills and winding valleys, through which some of the tributaries of the Blackstone River make their way, and furnish some motive power. Mill Brook runs through the city proper, furnishing much power, and affording a terminal channel for the excellent sewerage system. It has its origin in North Pond, in the northern part of the town, and is the main stream of the Blackstone River. The other principal streams are Broad-meadow Brook in the southern section, Kettle Brook in the southwest, and Tatnuck Brook in the western section. Hills and elevated land surround the township; and within are Winter Hill in the north, Tatnuck Hill in the west, Prospect Hill in the centre, and Millstone Hill in the east commanding a fine view of Lake Quinsigamond and the hills and vales of Shrewsbury, divided from the city on its whole eastern side by this beautiful sheet of water. These and lesser eminences, as well as the vales and plains, are covered with well-cultivated farms, orchards and gardens, interspersed with attractive farmhouses, and often with handsome residences.

" There is scarcely to be met with, in this or any other country," says Prof. Edward Hitchcock, referring more especially to the central section, "a more charming landscape than Worcester presents from almost any of the moderately elevated hills which surround it. The high state of agriculture in every part of the valley, and the fine taste and neatness exhibited in all the buildings of this flourishing town, with the great elegance of many edifices, and the intermingling of so many fine shade and fruit trees, spread over the prospect beauty of a high order, on which the eye delights to linger."

The extensive territory of this city embraces the large number of 349 farms; whose product in 1885 was $620,756. The manufactures are exceedingly numerous. The leading articles are boots and shoes, cut shoe goods, carriages, rail-cars, boilers, rolled and sheet iron, machinery, tin, copper and brass goods, wire-work, fire-ovens, edge-tools, wrenches, files, shoe and other artisans' tools, ploughs and other agricultural implements, doors, sashes and blinds, screws and other metallic articles for mechanics' uses, furniture, organs, men's clothing, corsets, hosiery and other cotton, woollen and worsted goods, cards, card clothing, looms, dye-stuffs, chemicals, oils and paints, bricks, tiles and pipes, paper, envelopes, boxes, cards and other paper goods, leather, belting, harnesses, trunks and valises, packed and butchers' meat, flour and meal, tobacco articles, and beverages. The whole number of establishments, as enumerated in the industrial census for 1885 (recently published), was 772; employing about 25,000 persons, and producing goods to the value of $28,699,524. Worcester is the location of the Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company, noted for its wire; the G. H. Whitcomb Company for its envelopes; the Ames Plough Company, for its ploughs,—of which it makes 30,000 a year, of 150 or more patterns. There are other makers of the first two articles. The power-loom industry originated in Worcester, and there it has been developed to an extent that has made the Worcester looms famous throughout the world. There are now three loom works in the city, the annual product of which is valued at $2,500,000.

 [Knowles Loom Works]

Worcester has seven national banks, whose aggregate capital stock is $2,250,000; and four savings banks, carrying deposits, at the close of last year, to the amount of $23,081,684. The population in 1885 was 63,389; of whom 14,843 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $64,502,636,— with a tax-rate of $16 on $1,000. There were 8,720 taxed dwelling-houses.

The public schools in the city are graded, and include a high school and a State Normal School, The school-houses belonging to the city were 43 in number, and were valued at $1,034,939. Several of them — the high school especially — are superior structures. The Worcester-County Free Institute of Industrial Science is a school of great value and high repute. Its principal building is constructed of colored stone from Millstone Hill, and occupies a fine eminence in the northern section of the city. It is a free school of technology, founded by the liberality of the late John Boynton, of Templeton, in Worcester County, who gave $100,000 for the institution on condition that the city of Worcester should furnish the buildings. A grant of $50,000 was made by the State and a donation of $100,000 by the Hon. Stephen Salisbury, for the school. It was also provided with a well-furnished machine-shop, costing about $80,000, by the generosity of the late Ichabod Washburn. The Oread Institute, a picturesque structure of stone, in the form of a feudal castle, and occupied as a young ladies' seminary, makes an impressive appearance in the southern section. The College of the Holy Cross is delightfully situated on the northern acclivity of Packachoag Hill. Other schools are the Highland Military Academy, the Worcester Academy, the Orphanage of the Sisters of Mercy, the Union Church Free Kindergarten, two business colleges and several others. The State Normal School has a beautiful building of colored stone on a commanding eminence in the easterly section of the city. A valuable feature of this school is the apprenticeship system in teaching; and another is the systematic psychological observation of children.

[the Public High School, Worcester]

The Worcester Free Public Library contained, in 1885, about 63,000 volumes, and occupied a building valued at $40,000. There is a new and noble structure for the purposes of a public library now building. This institution has been made uncommonly useful to the community through its connection with the city schools; a result which has been largely owing to the exceptional qualifications and zeal in this work of the librarian, Mr. Samuel S. Green, — of long experience and wide repute.

[The Oread Institute, Worcester]

The latest, and prospectively the greatest, of the institutions of this city, and possibly of the country, is the Clark University, established in 1887 by Hon. Jonas G. Clark, a citizen who, by enterprise and the exertion of great native ability, had acquired a very large fortune. For years he cherished the purpose of founding an institution that would not interfere with, but supplement all others, by making its object the enlargement of the boundaries of human knowledge. He wisely chose to guide the formation of the institution himself, and has therefore, while still in the vigor of life, given the sum of $2,000,000 for a basis of an institution of philosophical research, to be eventually extended in all directions within the scope of human observation. He has associated with him in the conduct of the institution several gentlemen of acknowledged eminence; and Prof. G. Stanley Hall, of the Johns Hopkins University, has been chosen as tile president; and several teachers of high ability have already been associated with him.

[Clark University, Worcester]

Several of the institutions have large and excellent libraries; and the aggregate number of volumes in the public, professional and association libraries in the city (excluding those of church and Sunday schools) was 236,750. Of these was the county law library, of 9,000 volumes; that of the Natural History Society, an active and beneficial institution; and of the American Antiquarian Society, founded in 1812 by the munificence of Isaiah Thomas, the most celebrated American printer of his time; which has a large collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and objects of biology; and the Worcester Antiquity Society, which has similar collections, but of a more local and social nature. The Worcester County Musical Association, having its organic centre in this city, was started some thirty years ago, and is now fitted, probably, to do more for music than any other institution of the kind in the country. Its annual musical festivals have won for the city the reputation of being an important musical centre. The influence of the society in the city is nowhere more quickly perceived than in the churches. The number of these is forty-one. They include 9 Congregationalist, 7 Baptist, 6 Methodist, 6 Roman Catholic, 3 Protestant Episcopal, 2 Unitarian, 2 Universalist, a Free Baptist, an Evangelical Lutheran, a Friends, a First Church of Christ, an African Methodist, and an undenominational church.

[the State Normal School, Worcester]

Some of these edifices are noble churchly structures; of which St. Paul's — a strictly Gothic form — is esteemed one of the finest; and All Saints (Episcopal) and the Central Church (Congregationalist) are notable for their beauty. The new quarters of the Young Men's Christian Association are such as reflect credit upon the architect and the city. Among the public institutions of Worcester of a specially benevolent character, the Worcester Lunatic Hospital stands at the head. Its enormous granite structure is delightfully located by the lake in the eastern section of the city. it has 1,000 feet of frontage, and consists of a central administration building with thirteen wings extending from each side; each one being so constructed as to admit light and air on all sides. In May, 1889, this building contained over 800 patients. Another public building of note is the county court-house, a handsome structure of granite. Mechanics' Hall is the place for great audiences — seating about 2,000 persons; and the elegant theatre will accommodate, probably, two thirds as many. Horticultural Hall, Washburne Hall, Grand Army Hall and Insurance Hall, fall successively from the last number, but are mostly pleasant places. There are many handsome business blocks, while some of the factories have a very striking appearance. The Old South Meeting House—of the first parish of Worcester, organized in 1716—has recently disappeared; but its old neighbor, the town-hall, though neither imposing nor beautiful, still stands, serving. well the city uses. From its social and political influence, Worcester is sometimes, and not inappropriately, called "The Heart of the Commonwealth."

[Trinity Methodist-Episcopal Church]

This place was incorporated as a town, October 15, 1604 [sic, actually 1722]; and was named for the ancient city of Worcester, on the Severn, in England. Its incorporation as a city occurred February 20, 1848. Quinsigamond, now applied to the lake at its eastern border, was the Indian name for Worcester. The Indians inhabiting here were probably Nipmucks. They were much under Christian influence, and King Philip tried in vain to induce them to join his cause against the whites. The first permanent settlement by the latter appears to have been in 1713, when Jonas Rice returned to the home from which dread of the Indians had driven him and others,— the wife of one (Dickory Sargent) having been killed by them in 1704. In 1718 a number of Scotch-Irish families, from Londonderry, came in. The people evinced a sturdy patriotism during the Revolutionary war, and were active in suppressing Shay's Insurrection. During the war of the Slaveholders' Rebellion the city was prompt to furnish its full quota of men and to sustain its full share of the expenses.

"The Massachusetts Spy" was first issued in Worcester by Isaiah Thomas (previously mentioned) May 3, 1775. His press was set up three days prior to the battle of Lexington; and thus "the first thing printed in Worcester" contained an account of the battle of Lexington. From this press, also, came the first folio Bible printed in the United States. The present newspapers and journals of the city are the Evening Gazette, Evening Telegram, and the Spy, dailies; La Travailleur (French), semi-weekly; the Sunday Telegram, the Ægis and Gazette, the Massachusetts Spy, the Christian Weekly, Le Courrier de Worcester (French), the Home Journal, Ostra Postfen (Swedish), Veckoblad (Scan.), weeklies; the Eastern Medical Journal, semi-monthly; the Messenger of Truth, the Piedmont Mission Builder, and the Pocket Guide, monthlies.

Worcester is the native place of the following distinguished persons: Col. Timothy Bigelow (1739-1790), a Revolutionary patriot, and member of the Provincial Congress 1774-1775 (to whom there is an elegant monument); Benjamin Adams (1765-1837), B. U. 1788, an able lawyer; Levi Lincoln, LL.D. (1782-1868), governor of the State from 1825 to 1834; Lewis Bigelow (1785-1838), a prominent lawyer; Charles Allen, LL.D. (1707-1869), an able statesman; William Lincoln (1801-1843), an editor and antiquary; George Bancroft, LL.D. (1800), an eminent historian and statesman; Manton Marble (1835), an able editor and author and Dorothea L. Dix, a well-known philanthropist.


Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890, pp. 712-720

Gazetteer, our Worcester