Save the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower
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The undersigned requests that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reverse its intention to demolish the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower. We urge the Commonwealth to direct the Department of Capital Asset Management and the Department of Mental Health to market this outstanding historical and architectural landmark to potential buyers for rehabilitation and compatible reuse.
Significant both for its important role in the care of the mentally ill and for the unusually high quality of its architecture, the landmark Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower was built in 1877. The centerpiece of what was then known as Worcester State Lunatic Hospital; its soaring iconic tower rises 250 feet above Lake Quinsigamond and can be seen for miles around. Designed by Boston architects Weston & Rand in the High Victorian Gothic style, it served as the administration building for a 600-bed hospital designed for the humane treatment of the mentally ill and built on the popular Kirkbride plan. The Hooper Turret, a circular structure that is now free-standing, was added to the complex in one of several 19th-century enlargements. Both buildings are made of ferruginous gneiss rubble, quarried from nearby land, and trimmed with red brick and rock-faced granite.
The Clock Tower and Hooper Turret are all that remain of the large 19th-century hospital complex demolished to make way for a new $302 million hospital, now under construction. The state’s first new psychiatric hospital in almost fifty years, the new facility is scheduled to open in 2012. This project is one of the largest capital projects ever commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Worcester has an important and rich history in the treatment of the mentally ill. Worcester State Lunatic Asylum, predecessor to today’s Worcester State Hospital, opened in 1833 as the first public mental hospital in the United States. Sigmund Freud visited the 1877 hospital in 1909 during his only trip to the United States, surely entering through the Clock Tower section of the building. An outstanding example of High Victorian style architecture and a highly visible reminder of the city’s long and important role in the history of mental health, the Clock Tower deserves extraordinary preservation efforts.
The Clock Tower is in imminent danger of being demolished and its important historical value being erased.
Please help us send a message to the State of Massachusetts to save the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, a cherished and important historical landmark.