Providence and Grafton Streets, 1890s,

   Kingsley & Knab

Perspectives on Worcester History 

An amateur historian’s efforts to contribute a little to what is known about the fascinating past

of this great city

Site last updated: Jan.27, 2018

  new -

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 comes to Worcester


Causes of Death in Worcester a Century Ago


 Worcester Goes Wireless


Images and commentary – list of contents

Short topics centered around photos and other images, with commentary

An aerial view of downtown in 1919; a race track in the city in the 19th century; men at work on the railroad and building a new street; Lincoln Square in 1969;  a listing of radio programs in 1929; steel-framed buildings in the 1910s; building permits as a measure of suburbanization of the city;  a book containing nearly 500 photographs of Worcester in the 1890s;  and others….  



Residential Development in Worcester in the early 20th century

An account of the area of the city known originally as Lenox, from its origin as the farm and homestead of a family there for six generations, through its conversion to urban residential use through subdivision development, beginning in 1909.

Six generations of a family and its farm on Pleasant Street: the  McFarlands and the Chamberlains  (pdf)

The Scotts of Maplewood Road (pdf)

Images of Lenox

Photo Essays:

Notable Arches in Worcester Architecture

Excursion to the Exposition: to Seattle by Train in 1909 

Churches of the Common: 1719 to the present 

All Saints Episcopal Church – a setback and recovery

Murder in Brookfield in 1898   and a follow-up (Oct-2017)

Worcester High Schools, 1752-1916

Nationalities of Parents of Pupils in W.P.S. 1867-1930

The Norcross Family Compound, 1869-1920


WorcesterThen:  1918

Worcester’s Experience of the

Influenza Pandemic of 1918

tracking the threat and the arrival of the disease in Worcester by reading the newspapers, then looking at the official data published after-the-fact (pdf)


WorcesterThen:  1918

Causes of Death in Worcester

 a Century Ago

data from annual reports of the Board of Health

This advertisement in the 1878 edition of the City Directory featured a view of the new Worcester High School, designed by H. H. Richardson and built by Norcross Brothers in 1872.

Worcester High Schools


the evolution of curriculum, purpose, and function; growth in numbers of schools, buildings, classrooms, and pupils attending

Nationalities of the parents of pupils in the public schools 1867-1930

a non-census perspective on waves of immigration to the city

a chart, an Excel worksheet,

 and a short narrative


The Norcross Brothers & the Family Compound  1869-1920

Urbanization Crosses Park  Ave.

The Development of  Newton Square  (1880s-1900s)   (pdf)

  Newton Square in the 1890s

City Directory, 1870s
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 Mysterious Disappearance

A prominent and respected manufacturer of machinists’ tools goes missing in 1875. 

The case of Lucius W. Pond

An account of his disappearance and of what followed.


Worcester Goes Wireless

(the first time)

First came telegraph service in the 1860s, then telephones and electricity for lighting in the 1870s, 80s, and 90s.  Suddenly there were poles and wires everywhere, especially on the busy streets of the downtown area.

In the mid-1890s a decision was made, and then was reiterated later, to take them down and bury the wires underground.  It was no small job, and for no small purpose.




WorcesterThen: 1830s – 1870s

From Court House to

Round House

A small, prim court house town

becomes a busy railroad center


what it meant for Worcester and its people

(1830s – 1870s)


Pictured: the George T. Rice of the Worcester & Nashua Railroad , ca. 1870s. Rice  was president of the railroad, 1854-1866.  

WorcesterThen: 1870s – 1900


Bigger, Fewer, More, and Better

The city and its railroads in the last third

of the 19th century

a continuation of

Railroads of Worcester



    Pictured: Union Station, completed 1875


Both photos courtesy of Worcester Historical Museum





The Central Fire Station, in a washed out slide from 1980.  Despite the poor quality, it still might be worth a look for anyone old enough to remember it, or the emaciated Union Street, which preceded Worcester Center Blvd, later renamed Mayor Taylor Blvd. The sign in front of the building on the left says “Prime Value Mart.”  The “Centrum,” now known as the DCU Center, is in its giant steel structure phase. The Mechanics Tower on Front Street hovers behind it.

Construction at Lincoln Square, about 1980. This was the site of the hotel and parking garage which still stand as parts of MCPHS. Most likely, someone else will know a lot better than I what was being done in this early moment of the construction process. Obviously, underground conduits were involved. The path running parallel to Main Street might have been the location of the former brook which had fed water into the canal system and had later been converted to a part of the sewer system.

The quality of the photo is poor because it was originally a slide and by the time of its conversion to a digital image a few years ago the colors had faded and some (additional) blurring had taken effect.

This house no longer survives, but it stood within the memory of some Worcester seniors, especially alumni of Clark University.


It was built in or shortly after 1853 on land situated between  Newton (now Park Avenue), Charlotte, and Maywood Streets, near what later became Woodland Street. The owner was John C. Mason, a partner in Nourse, Mason & Co., manufacturers of plows and other agricultural implements, and who, beginning about the time of the construction of the house, was also a banker and president of the Central Bank of Worcester for twenty-five years. 

Worcester Atlas of 1870, Plate 20

Mason called his estate “Woodland Cottage” and the name almost surely was the source of the name of the street which was built past his property in the 1860s.

The story of Mason, the agricul-tural tools firm of which he was a part, and its successor is one of some interest and a trace of significance, and may yet be told, in due course. The story leads to a 60-foot pyramidal monument in the state of Wyoming with not one but  two Worcester connections.

The house can be described as being in the style of the “country cottage,” which was popular at that time, displaying elements of the “stick” style and possibly a touch of “Eastlake” as well, although that style came into fashion a bit later. Another popular term for the style, owing mainly to its heavy use of bargeboard in the eaves, might be “gingerbread.”

Mason sold the property in 1880, and in the 1890s it was acquired by the new Clark College which used the house for the residence of its president. It served that purpose, with some years being the home of the Dean of Students, until about 1965 when it was demolished to make room for the new Goddard Library.