TwHP Lessons

Mechanics Hall:
Symbol of Pride and Industry

[Photo] Mechanics Hall.
(Courtesy Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts)

[Photo] Mechanics Hall interior.
(Courtesy Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts)


rom its source in the hilly village of Worcester, Massachusetts to its ending in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the Blackstone River played an important role in the history of New England as well as the country. Samuel Slater built the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning mill on the river in 1790, launching the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The once rural landscape of the Blackstone River Valley became filled with factories and mill towns seeking to take advantage of the river's power.

The advent of industrialization heralded changes in the workforce. In Worcester, workers formed the Mechanics Association in 1842 to help members develop the knowledge and skills to manufacture and run machinery in the mills. In 1857 they built Mechanics Hall to house educational and cultural activities. Featuring meeting rooms, a library, and two halls, the building became a hub of activity, drawing speakers from Charles Dickens to Susan B. Anthony. The superb acoustics of Mechanics Hall would attract orchestras, bands, and renowned performers from Enrico Caruso to Ella Fitzgerald, Yo Yo Ma to Mel Torme. Culture, like the river, would enrich the lives of the people of Worcester.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. New England
 2. The Blackstone River Valley

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Mechanics: A Rising Middle Class
 2. Mechanics Hall
 3. Excerpts from the Massachusetts Spy

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Boilermakers at work
 2. Blacksmiths at work
 3. Women's suffrage lecture ad
 4. Gottschalk concert ad
 5. Mechanics Hall Expo, 1909
 6. Mechanics Hall interior, today
 7. Mechanics Hall, before restoration
 8. Mechanics Hall, after restoration

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Meeting Places
 2. Technology and Community
 3. Local Research

Supplementary Resources

How to Use a TwHP Lesson

Lessons on Related Topics

TwHP Home

National Register Home

About the National Register

How the National Register
Helps Teachers

Contact TwHP

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

This lesson is based on Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



Comments or Questions
Privacy & Disclaimer
Site optimized for V4.0
& above browsers

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.