In 1865, Ichabod Washburn and a Templeton, MA tinware entrepeneur, John Boynton, founded the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science. Stephen Salisbury II, who donated a major portion of his land for the Institute, was named the first president of the Institute’s Board of Trustees. The Institute would later be known as Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The collaboration between Boynton, who taught science, and Washburm who taught vocational skills, led to the university’s philosophy of “theory and practice.”
Stephen Salisbury II and his wife Rebecca Scott Dean had one heir, Stephen Salisbury III (1835-1905) who, like his father, became a wealthy civic leader. In 1887 Stephen III donated 18 acres of his family’s farmland that had once served as pasture to the City of Worcester to become a public park. “Institute Park” would benefit students of the Institute as well as all Worcester citizens. The park operated in the tradition of an Olmstedian landscape park serving as a tranquil refuge against a rapidly industrializing Worcester. Salisbury paid for the park’s upkeep and many of its structures, some of which still stand today. Salisbury limited the implementation of flowers and shrubbery to allow open space on which park visitors could roam.
Friends of Institute Park
The park began as a tract of 18 acres that had once been farmland and pasture. Salisbury took it upon himself to pay for the grading of the land and the construction of many paths that led to every corner of the park. Once completed, many structures were erected on the site. Among these were a boathouse, a tower (see Figure 2-6), a bandstand, a bridge to one of the islands in Salisbury Pond, and four gazebos, all financed by Mr. Salisbury . . . In 1892, Stephen Salisbury III oversaw construction of the Norse Tower. It was almost an exact replica of the Old Stone Windmill in Newport, Rhode Island. The Institute Park tower stood 30 feet high and 23 feet in diameter. The tower was only open for 15 years until a fence was built around it due to its deteriorating condition. It reopened in 1929 after the top 18 feet were torn down and reconstructed, but it was only able to stay open for 10 years because it once again became a hazard
The Stone Tower was “located on the highest point of land directly north of the Polytechnic Institute” . A plateau was built up for the tower to be placed upon. When constructed, the tower was made “from granite-rubble and its walls are upheld by arches which in their turn rest upon piers eight feet in height. The structure itself is twenty-three feet in diameter with a clear elevation of thirty feet. There are three small windows at varying altitudes; and at the top, two gargoyles protrude a considerable distance, discharging rain water upon the rocky bed below. A winding iron stairway inside provides for ascent to the floor at the summit, where will be found seats arranged upon three sides; the space remaining being surrendered to the landing of the stairway”
“Institute Park: A History and a Future”, Leonard J. DelVecchio, Michael Swett & Joel Tarbell, partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Degree of Bachelor of Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2003, pp. p. 13, 14 & 28