Sunday, March 30, 2008

The restoration of Sherwood's Diner - Worcester Diner #755

Above & below: The original floor plan for Sherwood's Diner showing the design of the diner by the Worcester Lunch Car Co. from the archives of the American Diner Museum .

History of Sherwood's Diner

Worcester Diner #755 represents a standard barrel roof design available from the Worcester Lunch Car Company during the 1930s through the 1940s. According to surviving company production records, Diner #755, measuring 14’6” x 28’, was built for Treadway L. Sherwood of Brooklyn, New York. It was constructed at the factory, 4 Quinsigamond Avenue, Worcester, Massachusetts from October 1939 to February 1940. Following the completion, it was delivered to its original location in Medford, Massachusetts by Arthur LaFleur Trucking.

Diner #755 was repossessed by the company sometime during 1941 and returned to Worcester, Massachusetts. Ernest Ryan purchased Sherwood’s Diner in 1942 to replace his Foster Diner (56 Foster Street) on the corner of Foster Street and Commercial Street in Worcester. Ernest Ryan operated Sherwood’s Diner until his death in 1969. Mrs. Mae Ryan and her children attempted to keep the business going but decided to sell in 1971 when the city of Worcester offered to purchase the property for redevelopment.

Sherwood’s was moved twice before it was semi permanently placed on Route 12 in Auburn, Massachusetts. The diner was converted to an ice cream stand and operated there only for a few years before closing. The diner was left to the mercy of vandals and the forces of nature. The beauty of the diner was fading as parts were stripped for souvenirs and salvage.

In the fall of 1994, the owner of the property donated the Worcester #755 to the American Diner Museum. It was immediately boarded up and secured from further vandalism. Members of the Museum tracked down missing exterior porcelain panels, booths and tables, stools and other elements for a diner exhibition at the Rhode Island Historical Society in 1995. Following the exhibit all recovered parts were placed in storage. We would like to thank John Tighe for if it was not for his donation of this diner to the American Diner Museum it would most likely no longer exist.

Additional Information on this project click here.

Above : Sherwood's Diner just prior to the lift off of it's foundation.
Hydraulic Jacks were used to left Sherwood's Diner off the ground so it could be placed on a flatbed truck.

These photos show Sherwood's Diner as it

sat abandoned in Auburn, Ma.

Photos above: These photographs show Sherwood's Diner as it was found in Auburn, Ma. after an attempt was made to use the diner as an ice cream stand failed and Sherwood's Diner was left abandoned. The American Diner Museum rescued the diner from further damage and today the diner is one of three diners built by the Worcester Lunch Car Co. being restored by the New Hope Diner Restoration Project.

Right: An original interior photo of the diner.

Above:Volunteers brace the interior front wall of Sherwood's Diner
for continued interior restoration.

The above photo from the American Diner Museum archives shows the diner at it's 2nd location at Foster & Commercial St's in Worcester, MA. Sherwood's Diner original location was Medford, MA.
Sherwood's was delivered to Medford, MA. in February of 1940

The following article from May 1999 highlights the donation and rescue by volunteers from demolition of two vintage diners including Sherwood's Diner.

2008 Heritage Harbor Museum and Library update: Heritage Harbor Museum


May 20, 1999 Section: LOCAL NEWS Page: B1 By Gerard F. Russell

AUBURN - Hop on a stool for a spin into history. The Dairy Doll diner rolled away yesterday, bound for a museum that preserves these remnants of Americana dotting the nation's roadsides. A landmark here since the early 1970s, the dusty diner was lifted from its Southbridge Street foundation for its trip to Rhode Island.

The former ice cream and hamburger joint, between Cantwell Hardware and Colony Package Store, was donated to The American Diner Museum of Providence by owner John P. Tighe of Dayville, Conn.


It joined another unfinished diner that rolled out of a Worcester garage Tuesday and headed south. Francis Van Slett, of Van Slett Advertising on Park Avenue, donated that diner.

Manufactured in 1940 by the Worcester Lunch Car Co., the Auburn diner first opened for business in Medford as Sherwood's Diner. About 10 years later, it was moved to Commercial and Foster streets in Worcester. Later, it was moved to make way for the Centrum and ended up in a local salvage yard.

Tighe said he bought the diner for $500 in 1972 and named it the Dairy Doll, but a sugar shortage in the early 1970s soured the ice cream business.
Yesterday, it cost a lot more to move it. Moving costs run about $20,000, museum Director Daniel A. Zilka said yesterday, and thousands more will be spent to restore the diner to its original condition.


Amid a light mist, Zilka stood and watched workers jack up the diner before it was lowered onto a flatbed trailer truck. It took several hours for a crew of workers from O.B. Hill of Boston to get the diner on the road, a relatively small moving job for the professional moving company.

A historic preservationist, Zilka said he has restored a couple of dozen diners around the country. In their heyday, about 6,000 diners were in use nationwide. Some survived the challenges of time and fast-food chains; about 2,500 are left, he said. While the Auburn diner survived, it needs a lot of work. It sat vacant for many years between its various points of service.

Wooden slats on an outside wall are rotted and will have to be replaced. Patches of rust dot the diner's skin. Inside, a ceramic tile floor is dusty, but in good shape. The counter is still intact. Interior furnishings were removed several years ago for safekeeping.

Tighe circled the diner with a camera yesterday, taking shots at different angles as workers maneuvered wooden blocks and jacks under the diner's rusted beams.

"There are worse ones," said Tighe, commenting on the diner's condition. When he bought the diner, it was done with nostalgia. Tighe, a former Auburn resident, said he used to be a bricklayer and frequently ate in diners. In its new life, the diner will again serve customers, but at the museum. It will take about eight months to restore it, Zilka estimated.

The Worcester diner donated this week by Van Slett was a partly assembled Worcester Deluxe Diner. Van Slett bought the diner and what was left of the Worcester Lunch Car Co. in the early 1960s. Discovered inside that diner was an old journal of sketches, specifications and other information about diners made at the Worcester Lunch Car Co., Zilka said.

The American Diner Museum of Providence is one of 12 historical and cultural museums in the Heritage Harbor Museum and Library, located in a former power plant donated by Narragansett Electric Co.

Visitors will be able to learn the history of American diners through a reference library of manufacturers' records, a registry of diners, and a collection of photographs and artifacts, Zilka said. The museum is a nonprofit organization established in 1996.

American Diner Museum

P.O.Box 6022 Providence, Rhode Island 02940, United States
WWW.AMERICANDINERMUSEUM.ORG - American Diner Museum a member of the New Hope Alliance is a Federally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation and all donations may be tax deductible. The Museum will provide the necessary documentation for tax purposes. However, an appraisal of non monetary gifts will be the responsibility of the donor.