Worcester’s “Main Middle” is asleep …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Denholm’s = dead-zone. Empty commercial buildings in Worcester’s Main Middle are the norm.

Clean but barren …

This week: All dressed up, driving through WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE to find businesses to sell CECELIA ads to. But it’s as dead as a door nail here! A handful of small biz folks and a million plants, benches, banners, murals, flower beds … Downtown Enhancements that beautify yet don’t seem to attract businesses to our Main Middle.

WORCESTER’S MAIN MIDDLE, the stretch of downtown Worcester’s Main Street that we ol’ Worcesterites used to flock to in our childhood and early teen years. The “happening” and fun part of the city where we all came together to shop, snack, worship God, window shop, people watch and so much more.

Where are all the shoppers???

All gone. The stores and shoppes that drew thousands in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s – Marcus, Shack’s, Sylvia’s Dress Shop, the Mart, Lerner’s, American Supply, Denholm’s, Rovezzis, Ephraim’s Bookstore, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s, the Paris Cinema, lawyers’, dentist’ offices …music shops! Gone and not replaced. … I remember: My mom rented a pretty little violin for me from a music store on the second floor of, I think, the Commerce Building. A tone-deaf old lady with a gold front tooth gave piano lessons. Her husband rented and sold their musical instruments. Small accordions, tubas, violins, trumpets and clarinets were all displayed on high shelves. There were a few music rooms with upright pianos in them for people taking piano lessons from the gold-toothed old lady. … My mother was enthralled! Enthralled when we entered together and she made her tiny weekly rental payment on my pretty little violin. Her daughter Rosalie, a second grader at Lamartine Street School, played the violin she rented from these folks! Got weekly free lessons at Lamartine St. School from a very talented WPS music teacher! She was asked to be in the WPSchools orchestra by her teacher! I remember being bored with my violin and fascinated by the shop’s little red accordion with its rhinestone-studded C button – and also drawn to the store’s framed black and white photo of a big white rabbit wearing a bowler and fake-playing a piano … I think he was smoking a cigar …

Downtown Worcester deceives the uninitiated, but then you see this store front – one of many – and you know the score.

What do little kids have to experience today as they traipse through Worcester’s Main Middle with their parents?! Where are their memories?! Where can they buy a cute Cinderella wrist watch or fidget impatiently as mom buys herself a tube of Elizabeth Arden classic red lipstick?

Main Middle is asleep – and this time we can’t blame City leaders for its refusal to wake up!

Worcester City Hall, left, is located in the middle of a dead downtown Main Street.