HistoryThe original structure, known as the Franklin Square Theatre, was built in 1904. Later it became known as the Grand Theatre and was owned by Pauline L. Taylor. At that time, the theatre extended to the line of the former Norwich & Worcester rail line, which is approximately the front edge of the present balcony.
In 1925, Sylvester Poli of New Haven, Connecticut hired Thomas W. Lamb, one of the world's leading theatre architects to make major additions and alterations to the building. Lamb designed a 3,000-seat theatre, decorated with ornately painted plasterwork, marbleized columns and many elaborate furnishings. It offered its early patrons mirrored walls, a grand staircase, a large chandelier and a two-story lobby.
In 1967, National Amusements, Inc. purchased the building, closed the theatre and renovated the space into the Showcase Cinema. This renovation required major interior alterations including the removal of the stage, proscenium wall, upper seating boxes, balcony seating, and theatre seats and then dividing the space into four smaller cinemas. Showcase Cinema IV was closed in the late 1990's and the building was only minimally maintained for the next decade.
Edward Madaus and Paul Demoga, Founders of the Worcester Center for Performing Arts, started the non-profit in 2002 with the intention of purchasing the former grandiose theatre and turning it into a performing arts center. National Amusements transferred ownership to the Worcester Center for Performing Arts, Inc. for a nominal fee and the Light the Lights! Capital Campaign to restore the theatre began!