Old Union Station, Worcester, Mass

Worcester’s old Union Station, seen around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2016:

This building was Worcester’s original Union Station, serving the Boston & Albany Railroad along with several other railroads. It was completed in 1875 in a Gothic Revival style designed by the Boston architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt. Along with the usual passenger station amenities, it included a train shed over the tracks, along with a 212-foot clock tower at the corner of the building.

The station served Worcester for over 35 years, but by the early 20th century the city’s busy railroad traffic made it necessary to elevate the tracks through downtown. This, in turn, required a new station, which opened in 1911 just west of here. Most of the old station was demolished at this point, but the tower itself was saved. Unlike the two towers of the new station, which had to be taken down just 15 years later because of their deteriorated condition, the old 1875 tower stood here until 1959, when it was demolished to build Interstate 290.

Today, the 1911 Union Station, with replica towers, is still standing just to the right of the rotary, and in the distance the highway passes over the spot where the original station once stood. The only remnant from the first photo is the railroad itself, which can be seen on the right side of the photo, with MBTA commuter rail passenger cars passing over the bridge in the distance.

1 thought on “Old Union Station, Worcester, Mass”

  1. During the 1940’s and into the 1950’s the tower clock displayed what was considered the correct time.
    When I walked down Graftom Street on my way to Worcester Boys’ Trade High School, the time on the clock was my gage as to how I was progressing to make it in time for school.
    When the plans were made to build the highway, the tower was abandoned and the clock ran down and stopped and the time was accurate only twice a day, always the same time, 11:46.
    Being concerned for the future of the clock, my brother George and I climbed the tower staircase one night to see if the clock could be preserved. We determined that we could not salvage it. However, we did oil the works and cranked up the cable that held the weights that provided the energy for the clock movement.
    We then set the correct time on all four of the outside faces. The clock would run for several days before the cable would need to be rewound.
    Needless to say, the community was astonished to see the clock running again!
    I often wondered what happened to the clock when the tower was taken down. Maybe someone knows?
    Daniel Ustinovich


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