I am fascinated by the history of the our Cathedral and especially the Orange Street era, which ran from roughly 1924-1954. Part of my fascination comes from the fact that not only is the old building no longer extant (unlike the original Assyrian or Romanian church locations, for example, which are easy to locate) but the street itself no longer exists. My understanding is that Orange Street was leveled as part of the building of the Worcester Public Library – I imagine someone who remembers can pinpoint the location of the church at the library or in the parking lot, but there is certainly not a trace remaining. In fact, I don’t think I have even seen a picture of the interior, although I have seen the outside – several pictures are hanging in the main hallway at church. One of the many ideas I have on the back burner is to start a literary ‘zine and call it _ Orange Street (when I find out what the street number was) because it represents to me this mysterious past world that is almost a blank canvas.
Anyways, why am I babbling about this? Beyond my natural interest in the history of our community, I recently found a cache of icons that I imagine come from the old church. I was digging around in the “Maintenance Room” – the name for our gigantic closet of ecclesiastical items (the show Hoarders has nothing on our Cathedral) – and could not find an Epiphany icon from our set of the icons of the Lord’s feasts. I started looking through a stack of framed icons that were obviously really old. They had that western, neo-Byzantine look that many of our churches here adopted back in the day, and, although not faded in any way, the muted colors and the worn frame suggested a bygone era. I put out the Epiphany icon below on our children’s stand. Almost immediately Mike C found the one from the set that I probably passed over four times while looking, and we replaced it, but I decided to examine the picture further. It is from 1939, which puts it squarely in the middle of the Orange Street era. It is in what must be its original frame. Were these hung in the old church? The only other explanation is that we somehow inherited this set from a closed-down church or one that was moving, and that is entirely possible – again, the Hoarders thing. But it is cool to know that these are a tangible connection to our past, and now, since I plan to occasionally put these icons out, to our bright future.