PRESS & MEDIA
New Visitor Center Now Open
New Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center in Worcester Opens October 27
Festivities Include Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Community Celebration
Whitinsville, MA (October 22, 2018) — Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC) announces the opening of the new Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester on Saturday, October 27. Festivities begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:00 a.m., followed by a community celebration from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Visitor Center is located at 3 Paul Clancy Way, Worcester, MA, and will also serve as the future location of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Central Region Headquarters.
The new Visitor Center will be an interpretive, recreational and cultural resource serving as a gateway to the City of Worcester and the communities located in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. It’s strategically located on Route 146, moments away from the Mass Pike, Routes 20, I-190, I-290 and I-395, and sits adjacent to the historic Blackstone River and Canal and Worcester’s new Blackstone Gateway Park.
“This state-of-the-art facility will be a connecting hub for the newly created Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, important state parks in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the Blackstone River Bikeway,” explained Devon Kurtz, Acting Executive Director for BHC, and project coordinator for the exhibits at the Center. “The exhibits explore the Valley’s enduring legacy of
innovation and invention; immigration, ethnicity, and cultural traditions; transportation history; and changes to architecture and landscapes.”
“The Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester is a signature project for the City of Worcester, the communities of the Blackstone Valley and for all of Central Massachusetts,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “I am proud to have played a role in securing the federal investments necessary to make this project a reality. In conjunction with the new Blackstone Gateway Park and the recently completed Quinsigamond Bike Spur, the visitor center will spur significant economic development – not only in Quinsigamond Village, but throughout the region.”
The building’s design reinforces themes of industrial history and environmental conservation and reclaimed vital resources from the former brownfield site. The LEED Certified Silver structure features reclaimed brick walls, reclaimed wood flooring, a furnace powered by sustainable wood pellets and solar panels supplying electricity and providing shade. Bioswales, vegetated areas designed to filter stormwater by capturing pollutants, will filter all the water runoff from the building and parking lots, cleaning the water before it is released into the environment.
“The Visitor Center is such an exciting project because it plays a number of important roles for our community,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “It’s a site that helps tell the story of the Blackstone Canal and its role in the rise of Worcester as a powerhouse of the American Industrial Revolution. Serving as a gateway into the City, it functions as a launch point for both residents and visitors to learn about the many exciting opportunities we offer. Representing a key investment in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood, this is a project the City and entire region can be proud of.”
According to Kurtz, a powerful visitor experience will be delivered by unprecedented interactive exhibits, reproduction objects, and evocative sculptures within a 4,000-square foot exhibit hall as well as compelling outdoor elements on the 6-acre site. The Visitor Center also features a theater/classroom space which seats 64 people theater-style, with sink, digital projector and AV, and direct access to exterior deck overlooking the river. An adjacent storage room can serve as a caterer’s prep space. The space is available for rent for corporate meetings and private functions.
“Having lived in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood all of my life, I have seen our neighborhoods transform through effective partnerships and determination,” said Dan Donohue, Massachusetts State Representative. “We still take pride in our industrial heritage and its place in history as one of the anchors of the Industrial Revolution. The district that is my honor to serve encompasses all of the neighborhoods surrounding the new Visitor Center. My constituents not only look forward to begin using the site and its exhibitions for their own exploration, but they clearly see the
economic impact that this Center and its exhibitions will provide in encouraging both our neighbors and tourists to explore and support our region’s businesses.”
“College of the Holy Cross is proud to support the Visitor Center and its mission to educate visitors and residents alike,” said President Fr. Philip L. Boroughs. “For 175 years, Holy Cross has grown along with the Blackstone Valley, and we are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to this showcase of its rich history.”
“The MassDOT Highway Division is pleased to have managed the construction for this signature project in coordination with local, state and federal partners,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “The now completed Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center at Worcester provides a multi-use path to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians through the Heritage Corridor adjacent to the building, which includes exhibits as well as observation areas over the water on the new truss style pedestrian bridge crossing the canal.”
“The new Blackstone Heritage Corridor Visitor Center is a wonderful space for visitors and the local community to enjoy,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “The Baker-Polito Administration is thankful to have strong partners like Congressman McGovern, MassDOT, and the Blackstone Heritage Corridor Inc., who are committed to the people of Worcester and introducing visitors to this beautiful region and its rich industrial history.”
The Visitor Center, Blackstone Gateway Park and improvements in the Quinsigamond Village neighborhood total approximately $26 million. This was accomplished with support from the Federal Highway Administration funding and other national, state and regional resources, and brought forward by a coalition of partners including Congressman Jim McGovern, Massachusetts’s 2nd Congressional District; Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor; National Park Service; Senator Michael Moore, 2nd Worcester District; Representative Dan Donahue, 16th Worcester District; Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation; Massachusetts Department of Transportation; City of Worcester; and College of the Holy Cross.
The interpretive exhibits were developed, manufactured and installed by BHC. It received grant support from Stoddard Charitable Trust, Fletcher Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, and Fred Harris Daniels Foundation.
Sponsors of the opening day’s festivities include Mirick O’Connell, UniBank, Navigant Credit Union, Harry and Lucy Whitin, Donna and Ted Williams, Richard Gregory, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, College of the Holy Cross, Congressman Jim McGovern, Open Sky (formerly Alternatives and The Bridge), Kathleen Polanowicz, William Beitler, Millbury Federal Credit Union and Polar Beverages.
The Visitor Center will be open daily, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 5:00 p.m.
For more information, call (508) 234-4242 or email [email protected]. Learn more about the Visitor Center and Blackstone
Heritage Corridor at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.