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Cultural Facilities Fund Finances Restoration Work at Worcester’s Historic Mechanics Hall

October 3, 2012

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)
Greg Liakos, Mass. Cultural Council, 617-727-3668 x343

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council have provided a $75,000 Cultural Facilities Fund grant to the Worcester County Mechanics Association, which owns and operates Mechanics Hall. The organization will use grant funds to restore the concert hall, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is highly regarded for its acoustics and beauty. Work includes cleaning and restoring all working components of the “Worcester Organ,” a 3,504-pipe tracker organ installed in the hall in 1864 by E & GG Hook Brothers of Boston. The last major work was performed on the organ in 1982.

“Mechanics Hall is a stunning piece of Worcester's past and present, and this Cultural Facilities Fund grant will help preserve the physical and acoustic beauty of Mechanics Hall for years to come,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones.

Other work includes restoring the building's roof, elevator shaft, exterior walls, and windows. Grant funds will also replace undersized ceiling-mounted speakers and failing amplifiers that are more than 30 years old. The mission of the Worcester County Mechanics Association, founded in 1842 as a nonprofit to educate the city's industrial workers, is to preserve the Hall (which the Association built in 1857) and maintain it as a community venue and world-class performance space.

“We are so pleased that MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council recognize how important it is for Mechanics Hall to maintain an ongoing restoration and upgrade program,” said Bob Kennedy, Executive Director of Mechanics Hall. “Our trustees and staff are committed to preserving our magnificent and historic hall for use by current and future generations. It is great to know that both state and local foundations understand and support our mission.”

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council administer the Cultural Facilities Fund, an initiative of the Commonwealth to increase public and private investment in cultural facilities throughout the state. Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2006, the Fund offers capital grants, feasibility and technical assistance grants, and systems replacement grants for eligible nonprofits engaged in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The Fund has awarded more than $44 million in grants to more than 200 cultural organizations across Massachusetts. For more information, visit the MassDevelopment and Massachusetts Cultural Council websites.

MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 300 projects generating investment of $3.8 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 10,000 jobs (2,547 permanent and 8,129 construction), and build or rehabilitate more than 1,000 residential units.