Parson's Cider Mill Connection

Vol.1, No. 7 - Spring/Summer

A relic from Worcester's early industrial history can be found off Apricot Street adjacent to the Robert Goddard Memorial site. Parsons Cider Mill, now a conservation area held by the Greater Worcester Land Trust, and part of the west side hiking trail, was originally owned by Phineas Heywood who built a house on Apricot Street between 1734 and 1739, later turning it into an inn. The name Parsons became associated with the site in 1812, and this association continued through four generations. Solomon Parsons continued keeping an inn and also devoted a part of the land to religious activities. A section of the original site is now called God's Acre. His son, the second Solomon Parsons, dammed the stream located on the land and created a pond and waterfalls to power a small mill, possibly a grist mill or a saw mill. It later became a cider mill, taking advantage of the abundant fruit of the numerous apple trees located on the land. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a young Robert Goddard conducted some of his early experimental launchings at the extreme north end of the property. Early In 1938, the mill was taken over by Norman Parsons, the last of his family to run the mill. He equipped it with electricity and turned it into a prosperous enterprise.

In 1938, Al Tessier bought the mill and the land and continued to produce high quality cider, but in 1976, in the face of diminishing demand, Tessier sold the mill, the orchard and the land--to private developers and to the Greater Worcester Land Trust.

Unfortunately, the mill burned down a year later, and the house was torn down shortly after. The creation of Goddard Memorial Drive divided the parcel. God's Acre, east of Goddard Memorial Drive, became part of a hiking trail, and businesses and housing supplanted the natural environment.

Chris Phillips, of the Mass Audubon Society wrote in 1993, An easily-overlooked little gem of an open space parcel--an Institute Park in the rough--offers glimpses of history, the stillness of an old mill pond, and a pleasant trail leading upstream along a woodland brook to Parsons Reservoir. In 2001, the Greater Worcester Land Trust deeded the portion of this land at the corner of Goddard Memorial Drive and Apricot Street to the Goddard Memorial Association for the creation of a memorial to honor Robert H. Goddard.

This wonderful natural treasure provides the visitor with a step back in history, glimpses of migrating birds and waterfowl, natural and man-made ponds, and after visiting the Goddard Memorial, a special way to spend a quiet afternoon in the country.