The New England hills were beginning to sew red and yellowpatches on their long green aprons. It was early in the morning,only eight oclock, but already the sun was warming the corners ofthe day. Worcester newspapers that Wednesday of September in1865 made no note of this meeting of Institute trustees, although afull column of the Daily Spy was devoted to the Sterling AnnualFair and almost as much space to Worcesters Cattle Show. Thepaper also noted that Secretary of War Stanton was to pass throughthe City that day.
But there was no mention of this meeting in which the locationof the new Institute was to be decided. As a matter of fact,Worcester appeared to be doing very well without another school.In the City there were seventy-six public schools and one highschool. There were three private schools and even one college,Holy Cross, which, although it did not receive its charter untilthis year of 1865, had existed since 1843.
Holy Cross and two of the private schools were situated highon hilltops, in scholastic seclusion and with good view of the valleybelow, where manufacturers congregated in such mundane pre -occupations as making paper machinery, wire, textile machinery,skates, razors, carriages, organs, boots and shoes, and leatherbelting. On Bigelow Court David Whitcomb had just finished build -ing a factory which was the first in the world for the exclusivemanufacture of envelopes. Already he had confided to friends thathe was making more money than he had made in all the Temple -ton years of manufacturing tinware. Crompton, Curtis, Heywood,Marble, Earle, Knowles, and Washburn were some of the world-known names in manufacturing. Recently Jerome Wheelock hadadded to Worcesters international reputation by his developmentof a steam engine.
In Worcester there were seven railroads, seven national banks,four savings banks, and two insurance companiesall in a city ofonly thirty thousand persons. A horse railroad line had been or -ganized and at least half a mile of track had been laid on PleasantStreet. For five years Worcester had had a public library, housed inthe upper story of the bank building on Foster Street. In this yearof 1865 the policemen of the City had been issued their first uni-forms. There were still no hospitals, no telephones, no electriclights in Worcester. But there were three good hotels and twonewspapers.
This was the City in which the trustees of the Technical Insti -tute proposed to establish a school, and this was the day on whichthey intended to choose its location.
Pauca Fideliter g g g g g g g g g 18651868
When the first overture had been made to prospective contribu -tors, Stephen Salisbury had offered cash and also a triangular pieceof land at the north corner of Lincoln Square. This area was reallytoo small for the school. The Common in the center of the Cityhad also been suggested, but the argument of desecrating hallowedground had hurriedly eliminated that possibility. Dale Hospital onUnion Hill, where so many soldiers had convalesced during theCivil War, was a definite consideration. During the last few yearsfourteen large barracks had been added to the original building,which at one time had briefly housed a medical college. This prop -erty had four acres of land.
On the south of the City another possibility existed in the bat-tlement of buildings known as Oread. Built in 1849 of stone quarried from Goat Hill, where it stood, this feudal castle hadevolved into a ghost of the Middle Ages to the consternation ofmany Worcester citizens. Eli Thayer, its owner, had told no one why he was building it. Four stories high, it had turrets andtowers fifty feet in diameter. There were no moats, but this wasthe only anachronism.
As revolutionary as was its architecture, the buildings purposewas even more startling. In a year when Oberlin was the only col-lege where girls were admitted, and a quarter century before other womens colleges existed, Oread had opened its doors towomen college students. Within four years the school had hadtwelve teachers and a hundred and fifty students. By 1865 itsfounder, Eli Thayer, had become prominent in Congress and innational issues, and the school had suffered from his absence.Oread offered a solid structure, if that were a prerequisite for theInstitute, and it could be bought for half its value.
The trustees conscientiously viewed all the sites and listened tothe details of possible purchase, even though it was a foregoneconclusion that they would choose another piece of property of -fered by Stephen Salisbury at the northwest end of town, whereMr. Salisbury owned at least two thirds of the land. The specifiedplot was part of the one hundred and fifty acres which the firstStephen Salisbury had bought from Cornelius Waldo on the westside of Mill Brook. The Salisbury land extended from LincolnSquare to far beyond Park Avenue and north to Chadwick Square.Almost all of it was uninhabited. The younger generation in theCity had dubbed the area beyond Chestnut Street as Oregon, be - cause it, as well as the new state, was so far away from the centerof Worcester. Far up Salisbury Street there were a few big farmsand the Highland Military Academy, where so many officers hadbeen trained during the Civil War. Every evening the City still heldits breath waiting for the big sunset gun to be fired, a signal thatthe flag at the Academy was taken down for another day and allwas well.
Absorbed now into other estates was the old eighty-five acre farmof Jo Bill, for whom the old trail that ran through the Salisbury
In those days it was a foreign countrybeyond the slope at Fruit Street wherecivilization then stopped. It was a com-mon sight to see cows driven throughElm Street to pasture on Newton Hill.
Robert M. Washburn, 1923
land had been named. This road was now just a wagon path run-ning in a straight line over the lower edge of the hill. IntersectingJo Bill Road, before it reached the hill, was a street known asWaldo (later changed to Boynton); between it and LancasterStreet there were no houses at all, only an uninhabitable swamp.
It was on a hilltop in this remote area that Stephen Salisburyproposed the school be built. His offer included a little more thanfive acres of land. The hill was heavily wooded, mostly with pine,but that, of course, could be cut and its profit used for landscapingin civilizations usual circle of clearing land in order to plant trees.
Subsequently Mr. Salisburys offer was formally accepted. Be -fore going further, the building committee then wisely visited the fewscientific schools in existence. They also inspected the new gym-nasium at Williams College. Paul A. Chadbourne, one of the professors at Williams, advised that all buildings to which they(the students) have access be made just as simple as possible, sothat they shall have no temptation to do mischief, and addedwithout hesitation that they should not have water closets in thetwo upper stories. Actually, he didnt think they should be in -stalled anywhere in the buildingI think that they would be use-less expense.
The committee listened politely to all the advice for which theyhad asked, then made their own plans for a three-story building witha laboratory of two stories so that the roof could be raised. Thereought to be an entrance carried up into a tower where astronomicalobservations could be conducted. It might also be pleasant to have aroom with a French roof built over it for classes in natural history.They suggested common brick for the outside of the building andstipulated that the school must be big enough to accommodate onehundred and fifty students. There should be a laboratory for thirtychemical students, a drawing room for fifty students.
To insure complete impartiality in choice of architect, the com-mittee asked that all bids be identified only by mottoes. Prove allthings; hold fast that which is good submitted such a satisfactoryplan along with the good advice, that Stephen C. Earle and hisassociate, James E. Fuller, were chosen for the job. StephenEarle, a Leicester Academy boy and cousin of the prosperousmanufacturer, Timothy K. Earle, was just beginning his career as anoted architect of public buildings.
Stephen Earle followed a few of the more important specifica-tions made by the trustees, then digressed for the sake of economy.First of all, he advised that the building be faced with granite fromMillstone Hill. From the earliest history of the town, this quarryhad belonged to Worcester inhabitants. They were free to take asmuch of the stone, as often as they wished, for any kind of buildingpurposes. This was much too valuable a prerogative to ignore. Todress up the building, Stephen Earle suggested Uxbridge granite ofa lighter color.
There were to be several classrooms and a chapel, the whole to
It is entirely useless for persons whohave never had experience to say whatstudents ought to be.
Paul A. Chadbourne, 1866
be topped by a tower eighty-six feet high. The inside woodworkof the whole building was to be of chestnut, and the windingoverhanging stairs, which were to jut out securely from the walls,were to be provided with a black walnut handrail.
The building was to be equipped with ventilating flues forwarming with stoves or furnaces, and, expert advice notwithstand -ing, there were to be four water closets. Up in the attic an elaboratepressure system was to consist of two sixty-gallon cisterns of whitepine, lined with lead. It was estimated that the plumbing of thebuilding would cost about a hundred and seventy-five dollars.Fortunately, water would no longer be a problem, for in 1865 theWorcester Water Works had effected a connection of the waters of Bell Pond with a forty-eight acre reservoir in Leicester, thusproviding Wor