New Worcester Postcards exhibit provides window into city’s history

January 29, 2024
By: Paul Davey

A new exhibit on campus gives the community a chance to glimpse into Worcester’s architectural history.

Curated by university archivist Ross Griffiths, the Worcester Postcards exhibit on the second floor of the Learning Resource Center features 18 antique postcards that depict buildings and landmarks from around Worcester that no longer exist. The images show former municipal, commercial, and religious sites that once stood across the city, but have since been destroyed for a number of different reasons.

Some of the locations still have remnants of the buildings that are shown in the images, while other spots are nearly unrecognizable. For each of the postcards, Griffiths added a QR code that brings up a Google Street View perspective of what the location looks like today. “I really want people to engage if they’re interested, not just take a look at how things have changed over time, but see it on a map of where it was,” said Griffiths.

Closed permanently in 1960, White City Amusement Park once illuminated the shore of Lake Quinsigamond at night. Named after the numerous white lightbulbs that went on every evening, this location is now a shopping center that bears the same name. An image of the amusement park as it looked in that time is on one of the postcards that is within the display.

display case with 3 rows of postcards on exhibit

The Worcester Postcards exhibit is on display in LRC this spring. (Photo by Colin Joyal)

Since his arrival at Worcester State in 2016, Griffiths has cataloged and documented the school’s collection of postcards. Many of them predate his time at the university, and some lack any documentation of where they came from. “I documented everything beginning in 2016 as it came in and where it came from,” said Griffiths. “But things that were here, there may not be any paperwork for where it came from.”

The antique postcards depict buildings and landmarks from around Worcester that no longer exist. (Photo by Colin Joyal)

Before the days of instant communication, sending a postcard was an easy, inexpensive way to stay in touch with friends and family across long distances. “It would arrive the next day or the day after, and you’d be able to tell people what was going on with you by sending a quick message,” said Griffiths. Some of the postcards within the university archives were actually sent through the mail, indicated by postage stamps and handwritten notes that were inscribed on the backs of the images.

The earlier pieces in the exhibit are tinted photographs that were altered to add color, but this process was eventually replaced by reproductions of modern photographs. “This tinting process really began to go out of favor by the 1950s because there were better photograph reproduction processes then,” said Griffiths, “and postcard companies didn’t want to waste their time with tinting things anymore.”

The exhibit will be on display on the second floor of the LRC through May 2024, and can be accessed online through the library website.


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