September 4, 2018

Mechanics Hall executive director retiring

Photo | File
Mechanics Hall

Bob Kennedy, the executive director for Mechanics Hall for the past 12 years, is retiring next month. He will be replaced by Kathleen Gagne, the facility's vice director and chief development officer.

Mechanics Hall has a retirement event planned for Kennedy on Sept. 25, a night to mark his last at the downtown Worcester landmark. Gagne will take over the next day.

The Sept. 25 event will mark a few key milestones for Mechanics Hall: the 40th anniversary of a major restoration to what people know of Mechanics Hall today, the 160th anniversary of the building's opening, and the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Worcester County Mechanics Association.

Proceeds from the event will benefit an endowment fund recently created by the hall's board of trustees called The Bob Kennedy Legacy Fund. The hall hopes to grow the fund to $1 million by the end of the year to help with ongoing operations. Fundraising is already about halfway there, Gagne said.

Kennedy, a native of the Rochdale area of Leicester, previously ran Kennedy Die Castings of Worcester for 30 years. Before that, he was a teacher, Gagne said. Gagne herself has been with Mechanics Hall for 24 years.

Mechanics Hall has held its own over the decades despite competition from the Worcester Memorial Auditorium and the DCU Center. It was shut down for a time in the 1970s for code violations, Gagne said, but remained shuttered for a few years until a $5-million restoration brought it back to life.

The hall, which has a capacity of 1,600, now holds between 260 and 275 events per year, with about 250,000 people passing through the doors annually. Roughly three-fourths of revenue comes from rental income and the remainder from donors.

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