An impressive attraction within the city of Worcester is Bancroft Tower.
Standing 56 feet tall, this stone and granite tower looks like a miniature castle complete with two square spires, an off-center circular tower, and an arched gate. An observation deck on top allows visitors to take in expansive views of the city in the distance (but note its limited availability below).
Kids, especially those interested in castles or medieval times, will have fun exploring the tower and pretending it’s a real castle. While adults will be impressed by the size and construction of the folly.
In addition to observing the tower, visitors can also make use of the hiking trails on the property or picnic on the grounds.
So where is this tower and what’s it’s history? Here’s everything you need to know before visiting.
Where is Bancroft Tower located?
Within the city of Worcester, Bancroft Tower is located in Salisbury Park, not far from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and approximately in the center or slightly northwest portion of the city.
If you’re coming from 290 North, take exit 21. Next, turn right on Lincoln Street and then right again on Salisbury Street. Turn left on Massachusetts Avenue and then take a right onto Bancroft Tower Road. As you drive up the curvy street you’ll see the tower up on a hill. Parking is available close to the tower.
If you’re coming from 290 South, take exit 21 and turn left on Belmont Street. You’ll then take the first right onto Lincoln Street, New Lincoln Street and turn left at the stop light onto Salisbury Street. Next, turn left on Massachusetts Avenue and then take a right onto Bancroft Tower Road. As you drive up the curvy street you’ll see the tower up on a hill. Parking is available close to the tower.
What are Bancroft Tower’s hours?
Salisbury Park is open every day from sunrise until 10 PM. Visitors can walk around the tower and surrounding hiking trails or have a picnic on the grounds.
The tower itself is currently only open on select days during the year. While the exactly dates aren’t the same every year, the City of Worcester typically opens the tower every Sunday during the month of October. At other times of the year, the tower is, unfortunately, locked, meaning, visitors cannot climb the tower and take in the view from the observation deck.
Bancroft Tower used to be continuously accessible to the public from its opening until 1980. During the 1980s, the tower was being used as a haven for illicit activities. In response, neighbors requested the tower be closed due to the nuisance of partiers as well as the safety hazard the unmonitored tower posed.
What’s the history behind Bancroft Tower?
Stephen Salisbury III erected Bancroft Tower to honor esteemed statesman, politician, and writer, George Bancroft – his father’s childhood friend. Bancroft’s birthplace was just below the park on Salisbury Street, making the location of the tower suitable.
In 1900, Salisbury, one of the last members of the wealthy and influential Salisbury family in Worcester, hired local architects Stephen C. Earle and Clellan W. Fisher to build the tower on 20 acres of his own land and spent $15,000. The tower was built with horses and carriages to transport stones up the hill.
At its completion, the tower was technically still on Salisbury’s private property although it was open to the public. Upon Salisbury’s death in 1905, the property was bequeathed to the Worcester Art Museum which turned it into a park and later donated it to the City of Worcester in 1912.
Do I need to book in advance to visit?
No, you do not need to book in advance to visit Bancroft Tower and there is no entry fee required.
What else do I need to know before I visit?
As mentioned previously, you should be aware that the tower’s observation deck is infrequently open to the public. Visitors can always wander the grounds and observe the tower from the outside. There are no set dates when the inside of the tower is open to the public but the city typically opens it for a few weekend days in October.
You should also be aware that you’ll need to walk up a steep hill from the parking lot to view the tower. It’s also important to note that there are no public bathrooms at the park, so plan accordingly, especially if you’re visiting with children.
Hiking trails are also available within Salisbury Park which connect to the cross city’s East-West Trail.
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.