Sherwood Diner, Worcester Lunch Car # 755, heading to Polar Park, home of the Worcester Red Sox
WORCESTER – The long, winding road through Sherwood’s Diner led to the gate of Polar Park.
In a few weeks, perhaps before Labor Day, a crane will place it on a new foundation along Summit Street behind the Polar Park outer field. It will serve as the headquarters of the WooSox Foundation, a spot for pre-match and post-match radio, and a place for former Red Sox players to sign autographs, among other things.
What he won’t serve is food.
“It won’t be a restaurant,” said WooSox chairman Charles Steinberg, “but maybe it can be a place where you grab a Table Talk pie or get a Polar Beverages water bottle. It will commemorate it. history of Worcester restaurants and will help shed light on all the different nonprofits we partner with.
Following:Duck Boats, Berm Opening and Sherwood Diner Return Highlight Latest Changes at Polar Park for WooSox Fans
Part of Worcester’s history
“It will be part of the vision for Summit Street, a street that has a duck, a restaurant, a Taste of Worcester and more.”
Sherwood’s Diner’s journey through the years has been recounted at length and is a remarkable story of surviving through thick and thin.
It was built by the Worcester Lunch Car Co. on the corner of Southbridge Street and Quinsigamond Avenue, about three Jarren Duran home runs from Polar Park Marble.
Ernest Ryan bought it in 1943 and it remained in business at 56 Foster Street until it closed in 1969. The Worcester Redevelopment Authority took it over in 1970, then moved it to Shrewsbury to make way for the DCU Center.
It was later used to store plumbing supplies and as an ice cream shop in Auburn. It eventually fell into disuse and ended up stored in shrink wrap behind a business on Route 146 in Sutton.
Enter the WooSox.
“When we started talking to the city of Worcester about Polar Park,” recalled architect Janet Marie Smith, “in our days of dreaming about what Polar Park could be, we wondered what we could do that was really talking about Worcester, making it taste, smell and look like Worcester.
“Of course, that Worcester is home to the restaurant was one of our fun facts and we thought – of course we have to have a restaurant, it’s Worcester. It was the City Manager (Edward M. Augustus Jr.) who said, “Well, there’s a desperate restaurant sitting down, waiting for someone to save it. This is the one you want. “
Bringing Sherwood back to life
Virginia Ryan, Ernest Ryan’s daughter, worked for years to preserve her family’s restaurant and give it back a useful life.
“She was committed to trying to save the restaurant,” Augustus said. “She always had that passion, that vision, but there were a lot of false starts. When the stadium project started rolling out we thought this was a great way to combine Worcester’s history with the stadium experience.
Allen Fletcher of the Canal District Alliance had worked with Steve Stutman of Stutman Contracting in Oxford and suggested that Smith call him about the dinner. Stutman had done some restoration work before, but had never had dinner, and he took Route 146 to see Sherwood’s.
He made a hole in the shrink wrap and inspected what was left of the restaurant.
“I think we can do it,” Stutman said.
Sherwood’s was trucked to Worcester and placed in a vacant lot behind the O’Connor Brothers Funeral Home on Park Avenue, which had donated the place to allow for the restaurant’s renovation. At this point, Stutman was able to take a closer look.
“It was worse than we thought,” he said. “The front wall had to completely collapse, the back wall had to collapse and be rebuilt, and a lot of other things had to be done. We had the shell and some parts that were inside like the old refrigerator, some equipment that was left behind. “
Perhaps the most important part of any restaurant is the counter and it was gone. However, the executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum, William Wallace, put the restorers in touch with Richard JS Gutman of West Roxbury, author of four books on diners and considered the best restoration expert in the country. His advice was invaluable in restoring the restaurant to its original condition and he donated a marble counter and stools from the same vintage as Sherwood’s.
“’Ramshackle’ is an understatement,” Gutman said of Sherwood. “I know Steve Stutman did a miracle… it’s perfectly awesome that they are doing this. This puts an exclamation mark on something that has been one of the city’s triumphs.
“These places mean something to us. The people behind the counter know us, they love us, they know what we eat and remember it for years.
There was still food left in the restaurant, Stutman said, but the type that scrapes the walls and floors. “It took a long time,” he added. His daughter Jessica Stutman, an art student, reproduced the original tiling, of which little remained, down to its imperfections.
The paint will be in the original color and the signage will also be a copy of the original.
The restaurant is slated to move to Summit Street in mid-August. It will require some finishing, then open to the public. The WooSox are hoping this will happen by Labor Day.
Sherwood’s was purchased from a former Rhode Island restaurant and museum. Money for the restoration, which Stutman estimated at around $ 250,000, was provided by the GS Fuller Foundation of Worcester, run by another dinner – and baseball – fan to Mark Fuller.
Worcester Lunch Car Co. # 755
Maybe Sherwood and Polar Park’s marriage was predestined after all. Each Worcester Lunch Car Co. restaurant had a serial number. Sherwood is No.755. That’s the exact number of home runs hit by Henry Aaron. The WooSox find out how to tie dinner and Aaron’s home runs.
Meanwhile, work continues behind O’Connor Brothers Funeral Home, the penultimate stop at Sherwood’s Diner.
“This might be the only time they’ve revived something there,” Smith said.
The end of the long, winding road is in sight for Sherwood’s Diner. Baseball fans should enjoy the nostalgia, history, and autographs. They just shouldn’t expect scrambled eggs.