Learn more about our historic theatre and take a closer look at the theatre’s beautiful architecture, history and restoration efforts.
The theatre possesses the power to evoke emotion and to make the visitor feel that they are a participant in the spectacle that is the architecture. The interior of this theatre still remains an impressive example of the important role architecture played in the early 20th-century popular entertainment.
The Elegance of the Past, Made Present
Step inside The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of our theatre, with its grand staircase, 7-foot tall chandelier and gilded accents throughout. Marvel at the craftsmanship and artistry of the restored building and the original elements that still stand, and when the lights go down and the curtains go up, be transported back in time.
Poli’s is Worcester’s oldest and finest vaudeville and motion picture theatre of the large and elaborate type built across the United States during the nation’s theatre-building heyday of the 1910s and 1920s. It is architecturally significant as the most deluxe example of its type and period in the city. No other Worcester theatre of this period, or of the “palace” theatre type, is of the same high level of architectural quality or is finished throughout with such high-quality materials.
Restoration & Preservation Efforts
After a history of changing identities, from a vaudeville theatre of the 1920s to a downtown movie complex of the late 20th century, the once regal building lost its luster… until a “for sale” sign in 2000 changed everything.
Worcester executive Edward P. Madaus bought the building and envisioned a refurbished theatre restored to its former glory. With the discovery of the still-intact original facade and the subsequent historical preservation grants and federal tax credits of $11M, the restoration efforts took on steam, eventually totaling $32M.
Today, the theatre stands as both an homage to its past and a celebration of where we are today. Its unique blend of historic and current features 32 chandeliers (one of which, the grand chandelier, has been hanging in the building since 1926), an uncovered and restored wall that was hand-painted in 1926, two stories of floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Francis R. Carroll Plaza and fresh, state-of-the-art technology.
The building, and now, the whole block as we expand our conservatory and THT Rep, represents a shared passion for the performing arts that’s been passed down through generations and connects us to our history as a community and a city.
As stewards of a historic venue, ongoing preservation and maintenance is a constant area of focus for our Board of Directors and staff. It was a primary motivation behind our previous Securing the Future Capital Campaign that had an aim to protect this architectural gem for future generations
Our concierge and ushers will attest to the fact that many first-time visitors marvel at the beauty of our theatre and want to know more about its past. Its beauty is integral to the theatergoing experience and we know that the decisions we make today to secure its future are critical to our long-term success as a premier cultural institution.
Thomas Lamb, Architect Extraordinaire
One of the most sought-after designers of vaudeville theatres and movie palaces in the early 20th century, Thomas Lamb was responsible for at least 300 theatres and designed some of the largest in North America. His best-known theatres include the likes of the Boston Opera House, New York City’s Capitol Theatre, San Francisco’s Fox Theatre and, of course, The Hanover Theatre, then known as Poli’s Palace. Lamb imparted the clean lines of the Classical style into designing Poli’s Palace, adding in a two-story lobby, grand staircase and impressive dome encircled by gilded rosettes.
The theatre is also significant as an example of the work of the internationally known theatre architect, Thomas Lamb. Despite the alterations that have been made here, the surviving portions of the interior are characteristic of his work. They are beautiful for their sense of space, proportions, lines, detailing, and material.*
Recognized on the National Level
- 2014 Pollstar ranks The Hanover Theatre #12 worldwide for attendance and ticket sales
- 2012 Pollstar ranks The Hanover Theatre #33 worldwide for attendance and ticket sales
- 2011 National Registry of Historic Places
- 2010 National Trust for Historic Preservation Excellence Award
- 2010 American Institute of Architects Design Award
- 2009 MassEcon Economic Impact Award
- 2008 Timothy J. Anderson Award for Historic Rehabilitation