Tag Archives: Castle Park

For the animals! For Woo neighborhoods!


And don’t forget!






And …

Here is Peggy’s Clean up event of Main South’s Castle Park:

Tomorrow! Saturday, April 9

9 am – 11:30 am

Come Help make Castle Park Beautiful!

Trash bags and gloves provided!

Meet at the Picnic Tables next to the playground (Ely Street entrance)

Cookout to follow!

Contact Peggy with questions: (508) 363-4911 or peggymiddaugh@gmail.com

Welcome spring!

Cook out! … At one of the scores of EARTH DAY Worcester clean up events this Saturday!

Lovely!! pic: Chef Joey

Earth Day Cleanups in Worcester!!!

It’s all happening this Saturday, April 9

Here is Peggy’s Clean up event of Main South’s Castle Park!

Saturday, April 9

9 am – 11:30 am

Come Help make Castle Park Beautiful!

Trash bags and gloves provided!

Meet at the Picnic Tables next to the playground (Ely Street entrance)

Cookout to follow!

Contact Peggy with questions: (508) 363-4911 or peggymiddaugh@gmail.com

Good news for Main South from the Main South CDC! Castle Park gets $$ for family events!

The Castle Park Task Force is pleased to announce that it received a mini-grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation to incentivize individuals, groups, and organizations to organize family-friendly events and/or programs in Castle Park during the 2014 Summer/Fall season.

The Castle Park Task Force has created a simple application and will select a minimum of five proposed programs.

The application form is due to mstarr@mainsouthcdc.org by Monday, August 11, at 5:00 P.M.

Winners are expected to be notified the following week.

Please feel free to direct any questions to Casey Starr at the Main South CDC at 508-752-6181, or mstarr@mainsouthcdc.org.

M. Casey Starr, Main South CDC

875 Main Street

Worcester, MA 01610

(508) 752-6181


Reclaiming Main South’s Castle Park

By Barbara Haller

In an inspiring effort to re-claim their neighborhood park, residents, businesses, agencies and city representatives have come together, with the help of the Main South CDC, and formalized the Castle Park Task Force. Castle Park is a 3-acre hidden gem located in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood.

Nestled on the top of a hill and surrounded by trees and dirt roads, this unique park makes you forget you are in the middle of the City (even though its only two blocks from Main Street).This great community asset includes a basketball court, a handball court, a playground, a walking-path, a great climbing rock ledge, and open green space.

Probably the most important accomplishment thus far, the Task Force successfully advocated for police foot patrols in the park. City Manager Michael O’Brien and Police Chief Gary Gemme’s uncompromised support of the Castle Park Task Force is a clear testimony to their belief in Worcester’s neighborhoods as the soul of our City.

The police presence has re-defined the park and provided the sense of safety that encourages families to use the park. It has also positively impacted relationships between police and community members, who are being given the opportunity to get to know each other.

The other transformative gift to the Park comes from the Main South CDC. This neighborhood-based organization committed to funding a half-time Task Force coordinator. This has given us the resource we need to keep the work moving forward.

In addition, the Main South CDCentire staff spent three days renovating the park last month. The staff filled the court cracks with cement, power-washed & painted both sides of the handball wall, removed graffiti, re-built and painted picnic benches, painted basketball court benches, and more.

The Castle Park Task Force is operating under the notion that the best way to weed out negative behavior is to load it with positive activities.An extensive amount of work has been done so far:weekly Family Playground Hour, a handball tournament, Calvin Bradshaw memorial tree planting for a much loved park neighbor, the post-Earth Day Clean-Ups Celebration hosted by the Regional Environmental Council, and a Preservation Worcester presentation on the Park’s rich history.

Main South’s Castle Park: site of the Oread Collegiate Institute – first women’s college in the nation

By Barbara Haller

Whodah thunk it? The very first college for women was built in Worcester and opened in 1849, at the now Oread-Castle Park. It is true and the neighborhood around Castle Park in Main South is celebrating it. We want the whole City to celebrate it with us. The story is stunning.

Here it is in a snapshot: Eli Thayer, a man of very modest means (his father’s country store in Mendon, MA was a failure) worked hard to get the best education he could. He attended and worked at the future Worcester Academy when it was located on large acreage around Benefit Street (before there was a Benefit Street). Then onto Brown University in Providence where he worked his way though by doing carpentry, landscaping, forestry.

After graduating from Brown he came back to Worcester Academy as a teacher and then headmaster. He envisioned a school solely for women that gave the same kind of rigorous college level education as he had received at Brown. He had only to look out from the Worcester Academy, across Main Street to see Goat Hill – an undeveloped 10 acres of land – and realize that this was the place for his first-in-the- nation collegiate institute of higher learning for women.

At the age of 29, Eli Thayer designed and oversaw the building of the Oread Collegiate Institute, which quickly became known as the Castle. The Castle had both boarding and day students and was quite popular. Eli Thayer taught and led the school for its first several years and he lived in the North Tower with his wife and ultimately 7 children. Many of the Castle’s graduates and attendees went on to great lives as community leaders, social benefactors, educators, artists, supporting wives, and inspiring mothers.

The Castle closed in 1881, 32 years after opening. During those 32 years other women’s colleges opened with large financial support and Eli Thayer had become heavily involved in other pursuits. Pieces of the 10 acres were sold for development – the Castle Street row houses remain today. The Castle and the 3 acres around it was sold in 1898 and reinvented into the Oread Institute School for Domestic Science. That didn’t last past 1904 due to it’s founder, Dr. Henry Perky’s unexpected death. Eventually the Castle fell into disrepair and was demolished in the mid-1930s. The City took the land in tax title and converted the site to the Oread Castle Park, known as Castle Park to most.

Eli Thayer’s most exciting effort, after the Castle, was the “Free Kansas” movement. Eli Thayer led the organizing and fund-raising effort that resulted in the 1861 vote of the citizens of the Kansas territory to enter the union as a free state, one where slavery was banned. Bleeding Kansas, as it was called, acted as a precursor of the Civil War which started 3 months after the Kansas vote. The Kansas State House has a bust of Eli Thayer where he is recognized as the father of Kansas.

There is so much more rich and proud history around Eli Thayer. After moving to 10 Hawthorne Street in 1898, he died in 1899 at the age of 80. He is buried, as is his wife and several of their children, in our own Hope Cemetary.

Every neighborhood has a park that is important to quality of lives: beauty and recreational opportunities. Castle Park is this asset for the neighbors around King, Castle, Queen, Ely, Alden, Oread Place: trees, green space, walking paths, rock climbing, basketball, handball, swings, and soccer. But Castle Park is also the site of one of the first women’s college in the nation and the home to the abolishionist who changed the course of US history. In this way, Castle Park has special status for us all. The Castle Park Task Force is working hard to share this important history with Worcester residents and to build a shared sense of pride in our City around the work of Eli Thayer.

TODAY: Remembering Main South’s Oread Collegiate Institute

Remembering the Oread Collegiate Institute: TODAY, May 23rd

5:30 pm  – 7:00 pm

· 1st woman’s college in United States

· Current site of Castle Park

Oread-Castle Park, at the children’s playground

· Walk & Talk around the park: photos, discussion of the Oread Collegiate Institute, “The Castle”

· Brief overview of “The Castle” by Jan Parent, docent of Preservation Worcester

· Interviews with:

– Eli Thayer, founder and architect, as portrayed by Jairo Reyes Vega

– Maria Goodrich, alumna & wife of 1st principal of WPI, as portrayed by Sara Hazouri

– Mary E. Lincoln, student & future wife of George I. Alden, as portrayed by Lucero Reyes Vega

· Light refreshments

This is a Facebook event – check the Friends of Castle Park page for more information on “The Castle” and future events in the Park.

Sponsored by the Castle Park Task Force and the Main South Community Development Corporation with gracious help from the College of the Holy Cross Theatre Department, Worcester Historical Museum, Preservation Worcester, Worcester Public Library, interns from University Park Campus School, and the City of Worcester.

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller – Queen of Castle Park!

By Peggy Middaugh
Resident, Castle Park Neighborhood

Basketball pickup games; kids on swings; soccer tournaments; families picnicking; mothers with strollers ; handball games. All of these are familiar scenes these days in Castle Park, a little known gem located in the heart of Main South. One block off Main Street, it is a peaceful four acre oasis of green, open space and recreational space enjoyed by local residents.

But it hasn’t always been like this. In the early 1990s, Castle Park was an overgrown, trash strewn, abandoned lot. It was well known for illegal drug activities, and needles and drug paraphernalia were everywhere.

But Barbara Haller had a vision. What a crime, she thought, to have such an historical treasure go to waste – and especially in a neighborhood bereft of green open spaces. She was determined to bring it back to reflect its former glory, Continue reading District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller – Queen of Castle Park!