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Monday, June 15, 2015

Worcester’s Salisbury Cultural District

Click to enlarge.

On May 19, 2015, the Massachusetts Cultural Council Board unanimously approved State designation of the Salisbury Cultural District, the city’s first official cultural district.  For Application Team Co-Chairs Erin Williams, Worcester’s Cultural Development Officer and I, this was the culmination of a year long process which required multiple public hearings, approval of a resolution by Worcester City Council in support of the designation, a Memorandum of Understanding between The City of Worcester and Worcester Art Museum as the District’s “lead stakeholder”, an inventory of the district’s cultural assets and annual public events, and well as an extensive application outlining the proposed district’s mission, goals and management structure.  All this while simultaneously wrangling nine Founding Stakeholder institutions and three dozen participating district stakeholders to share a common, collaborative vision.  It was a process!

Worcester’s Salisbury Cultural District is conveniently located near Interstates I-190 and I-290 adjacent to the city’s historic Lincoln Square.  Within a two block radius of this Lincoln Square keystone a dozen historically significant cultural and civic buildings stand. Click to see a map of the Salisbury Cultural District.  The district includes cultural institutions such as: the Worcester Art Museum; the American Antiquarian Society; Tuckerman Hall (home to the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra); the historic Salisbury Mansion; and the main campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).  It includes Institute Park (with its Levenson Concert Stage and Gazebo) and Salisbury Pond (a historic mill pond fed by Mill Brook, one of the water sources for the Blackstone Canal which once connected Worcester to Providence, RI).  The district is home to six Houses of Worship (including the Armenian Church of our Saviour, the oldest Armenian congregation in America); 17 restaurants; 6 specialty galleries/gift shops; over 50 adaptively re-used properties; and 10 National Historic Register buildings.  These entities collectively host over 1000 community events annually.

Nearby attractions include the Worcester Center for Crafts, Bancroft Tower (a national historic register structure), the Sprinkler Factory (home to artist lofts and galleries), Worcester’s historic Northworks (Washburn & Moen) mill and Rural Cemetery, as well as Worcester State University’s Sagamore Road Studios and WPI’s Life Science incubator labs at Gateway Park.

The District takes its name from the Salisbury family, whose history as merchants, entrepreneurs, gentlemen-farmers, founders and benefactors of arts, cultural and civic institutions in Worcester is unparalleled and dates back to 1767.  The district includes both the relocated historic Salisbury Mansion and Salisbury House, as well as several of the institutions the Salisbury family played a significant role in nurturing - the Worcester Art Museum (WAM), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and the American Antiquarian Society (AAS).  Additionally, Rural Cemetery (New England’s second oldest) is the final resting place of many of Worcester’s early and prominent citizens, including three generations of the Salisbury family.

With sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle paths, lighting, ample shade trees, historic buildings and an attractive natural and built environment, the district is safely and pleasantly walkable.  It includes a diverse array of dining options – from fine dining to family friendly snacking, as well as an assortment of boutique gift shops, galleries and maker spaces.  Nearby hotel lodging, parking and public bus transportation are conveniently available.  The district features artist studios, creative incubators, architecturally significant buildings, important cultural collections, and an impressive array of world-renowned facilities for the advancement of arts, education and culture.  Around every corner Worcester’s vibrant past and visions for its creative future are revealed.

- Trip Anderson, Grants Officer

For additional information contact:
Trip Anderson, Grants Officer, Worcester Art Museum; TripAnderson@worcesterart.org 
Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer, City of Worcester; WilliamsE@worcesterma.gov  

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