The New England Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians
The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum
America’s Pioneer General Contractor for Buildings: The Norcross Brothers of Worcester, Mass
Sara E. Wermiel, PhD
Wednesday June 29th at 7:00 pm
Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, 2450 Beacon St., Boston MA 02467
For those of you who are not familiar with them, the Norcross Brothers were, in the words of Preservation Worcester’s Peter Viles, “the Bechtel/Parsons of the age [1875-1905] with one important difference: there were no cost overruns. When the Norcross Brothers told you how much it would cost, that’s how much you would pay.”
The brothers, James Atkinson Norcross and Orlando Whitney Norcross, moved to Worcester after the Civil War, when they were in their thirties. They became the contractor for H.H. Richardson and McKim, Mead, and White. Among many other buildings, Trinity Church in Copley Square is one of the most famous buildings they constructed.
From The History of Worcester: “No contract was too large or too difficult for Norcross Brothers to execute, and there was scarcely a city of importance in the country in which sooner or later the firm did not have large buildings to erect.”
You might also be familiar with some of the buildings they constructed in Worcester: the Norcross Brothers Houses (short history; interior pictures), the Slater Building (390 Main Street), Classical High School, All Saints’ Church, and City Hall.
The mausoleum of James Norcross (with the famous “beehive”) is located at Hope Cemetery, as is the mausoleum of his brother Orlando. You can find James’ at #16 on the Hope Cemetery walking tour, and Orlando’s at #20.
(Note: for the Proquest links, click here first.)