Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

Let’s return to Worcester MA , this time to Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Harrington Auditorium opened on February 27, 1968.  It is named after two former student athletes, Charles and Frank Harrington, two brothers that funded the construction.  The venue serves WPI as both a gymnasium and a place for concerts and other events.  The Grateful Dead played there on May 9, 1970.  This concert was noteworthy for a few reasons.  The first is that not all of the band managed to show up for the gig, Bobby and Jerry announcing to the crowd that the remaining band members are in Upstate New York  “giving a speech”.  A “heady” speech I am sure.   Although I think it is probably one the shortest recorded Dead shows, it is (sorry tapers) one of my favorites, the recording of the pared-down band sounding like an old Alan Lomax recording.  Another interesting note is that this was part of an event by MIT called the “Freek Weekend” (no, not ‘freak’, play on works for ‘geek’), a similar weekend to what Princeton held for its students.  It included movies, music, and other student activities.  And, of course, this performance was  held the same week as the legendary concerts that the Grateful Dead performed at MIT in Kresge Plaza (5/6/70) and DuPont Gymnasium (5/7/70), the student killings at Kent State on May 4th sparking the Kresge performance and overshadowing all of proceedings.   Nonetheless, with the combination of the MIT/WPI crowd, it was no doubt a far out geek/freek-fest, worthy of note in any Mensa newsletter!  Here we see a side entrance to Harrington in the first photo, the front main entrance of the building in the second picture.  An example of a kind of typical 1960s architecture, the roof gives it that space-age look, adding some interest to an otherwise plain façade.  As with most of the stops at these college venues, the Grateful Dead (some of them anyway) played here only one time, producing a short, but memorable show.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Harry Angus
    Jun 15, 2013 @ 14:59:11

    Nice blog.
    I’m writing The Encyclopedia Of Jerry Garcia Music Venues. I’m interested in using the photo of the exterior of Harrington Auditorium. I’d need it at least 1mb or larger.
    Four years ago I started writing The Encyclopedia Of Jerry Garcia Music Venues. Alphabetically by state, there are 1070 venues that include interview, rehearsal, recording and performance venues. It’s mainly about the history of each venue including architects, builders, owners, opening night performances and other notable appearances, murals, paintings, statues, stage prosceniums , backstage areas, pipe organs, secret rooms, hidden tunnels, restorations and demolitions.
    Jerry’s history of each venue includes the bands he played with and who opened. In some cases via dated photos , what guitar he was playing, and other anecdotal stuff like that. I’ve added eye witness reports to as many specific dates as possible. Got any? Seriously, if you or anyone else recalls some serendipity or spontaneously miraculous thing from a specific date (I can help with that) in Jerry history please write it down and send it to me. Especially if it involves Jerry.
    Thus far I have 680 venue photos approved by 537 photographers. Only 390 more to go! Got any? There aren’t any Jerry photos, just photos of the venues themselves, and in some cases, deadheads.
    I’m planning to self publish a printed hard copy and e-book. Maybe 1000-5000 1st Edition Deluxe copies, autographed of course!
    I envision a large book, hard cover, this is a book that resembles the records kept for medieval pilgrimages to holy sites. People will want to know centuries from now where it all took place…so there ya’ go.
    Please email me at slipnut01@gmail.com.

    Thank you
    Harry Angus


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