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May 2, 2022

Guild of St. Agnes to renovate Colonial Bowling site into $6M child care and education center

Photo | Guild of St. Agnes Groundbreaking at the former Colonial Bowling Center in Worcester, which will become a childcare center run by the Guild of St. Agnes and Worcester State University

After buying the Colonial Bowling Center in Worcester, local child care provider The Guild of St. Agnes will conduct a $6-million renovation on the former candlepin bowling alley to convert it into a child care center and early education school.

Once completed, the facility on Mill Street will be known as the University Commons Early Education and Care Program and will include a childhood education lab school managed in collaboration with Worcester State University, according to a Friday press release from the two organizations. 

Worcester State faculty will collaborate with Guild teachers to offer early childhood education, and education students at the college will be teaching and learning onsite. Evening classes in Worcester State’s early childhood education degree program will be moved to the center.

The Guild bought the bowling alley at 248 Mill St. for $1 million in December, and in April submitted plans to the City to renovate the 17,600-square-foot building. The center will include seven preschool classrooms, three infant/toddler rooms, a kitchen, laundry room, and a college classroom. 

Half of the center’s 155 seats will be reserved for low-income families eligible for subsidized child care.

Photo | Guild of St. Agnes
A rendering of the planned child care center at 248 Mill St. in Worcester

“This is the most exciting thing we have done in 10 years, and it is coming at such a critical time,” said Carol Donnelly, Worcester State University education professor, who is leading the university’s academic program in the new center. “Our hope is that the center is a lighthouse for diversity in terms of the children served and in terms of the teachers served and graduated by the partnership.”

The Guild has secured grants totaling $325,000 from the Stoddard Charitable Trust and George I Alden Trust, both of Worcester, and hopes to raise $1.5 million. 

The Guild employs more than 300 people and serves 1,600 children with child care and educational services across Central Massachusetts. 

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