The Hanover Theatre
Poli Palace Theatre
Audience at the Poli-Palace Theatre (1920s)

Worcester, MA

Constructed in 1904 as the Franklin Square Theater, the building on Southbridge Street in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts has been the mainstay of community life for more than a century. It was purchased in 1914 by Sylvester A. Poli of New Haven, Connecticut, who owned a successful chain of theaters.  

In 1925, Mr. Poli 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. Renamed the Fox-Poli Palace Theatre, at the time it was considered one of the most beautiful theaters in New England.  
Hanover Theatre
The auditorium is returned to its original configuration.

Later taken over by the Loew's chain, in 1967 it was acquired by National Amusements (Showcase Cinemas). In the 1960s the theatre was converted to a four-screen movie house. This overhaul required major interior alterations, including the removal of the stage, proscenium wall, upper seating boxes, balcony seating and theatre seats—then dividing the space into four smaller cinemas. Three decades later, the building was closed and abandoned for a decade.   
Hanover Theatre
Renovation required major reconstruction of the
stage. This extraordinary picture, taken from the
balcony, shows
the back of theatre completely
open during construction.
In 2002, ownership of the theatre was transferred to the Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., the first step in a successful public-private partnership that ultimately secured $31 million to renovate the theatre. The project required a skilled design team and an army of artisans to restore the 1904 façade and surviving interiors while installing modern systems and amenities. Working largely from historic photographs, the design and construction team carefully restored major lost features while adding a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system and stunning new glass pavilion. The theater also received another facelift with a new name: Hanover Theater.  

Since the theatre’s grand reopening in 2008, more than 350,000 patrons have attended events and more than 7,000 have joined as subscribers or members. The new theatre has hosted hundreds of performances,
Hanover Theatre
The renovated auditorium. Photo by Dan Dionne.
reinvigorated Worcester’s cultural scene and enlivened the surrounding neighborhood.  

“The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts is an architectural and community treasure,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “A catalyst for the economic revitalization of the city and central Massachusetts, the theatre’s renovation is a textbook case on how to bring a building – and a neighborhood – back to life.”

Franklin Square Theatre
The original Franklin Square Theatre (1904)
Fox-Poli Theatre
The Poli-Palace Theatre - later renamed Fox-Poli. Notice
the Franklin Square facade at left.
Fox-Poli Palace
The new Fox-Poli Theatre.
Hanover Theatre
The current exterior - the original Franklin Square Theatre
facade still exists to the left of the new entrance.

The renovation complete. Photo by Dan Dionne.
Hanover Theatre
The lobby.
Photo by Dan Dionne.
Hanover Theatre
A showpiece for New England. Photo by Dan Dionne.

Visit the Hanover Theatre website