In the early to mid 19th century Easthampton experienced an increase in industrial developments from the manufacturing of cloth-covered buttons to the elastic in suspenders. There was a tremendous growth in population due to an influx of immigrants who came as far as Germany and Poland in search of opportunity and labor. The tree lined Main Street rapidly developed as a central destination for visitors and townspeople for shopping, religious assembly, and town meetings.

The first town hall is not the one we see today. There were several meeting places for town business located on Main Street that were rather small in size. One of these meeting places was located across the street from the current town hall. Samuel Williston, founder of the button industry in Easthampton, had his eye on the property to build Williston Seminary, a boarding school that is known today as The Williston Northampton School. Samuel Williston bought the land and the building was moved to Pleasant Street where it became part of residential housing. Another building governed as town hall was given to the First Congregational church in 1865 located where the old memorial building stands at 1 Northampton Street. It was used as a chapel behind the church before being destroyed by a fire in 1929.

Two years before the dedication of the building we now call the old Town Hall, there was a consensus at a town meeting that Easthampton had outgrown its meeting hall and the need for a permanent formal town hall building was necessary. Large multi-level brick buildings were in vogue and the Town Hall Building Committee was formed to hire an architect who could build such a structure. The committee chose Charles Parker who was a proponent of the Victorian Italianate style known for its tall narrow windows with segmented arches, arcade porches, and eaves. Parker had already designed the Williston Seminary gym (built in 1864) that was located across the street behind the three other buildings, North Hall, South Hall, and Middle Hall that housed Williston Seminary. E.R. Bosworth, the contractor of the Williston gym, was also hired for the town hall project as the assistant architect and builder. Parker and Bosworth built with superior materials using brick, Portland and Nova Scotia Stone, and French cylinder glass for the windows. The grand yet functional building opened its doors to a day of festivities in June of 1869. On that day E.H. Kellogg of Pittsfield gave the dedication address, and a pamphlet that gave a detailed description of the Town Hall’s architecture was distributed and can be read here. Preceding the entrance to the building is a memorial in the shape of a tablet made of white Italian marble that is inscribed to the soldiers of Easthampton who died during the Civil War.

Although its occupants have varied throughout the years, the old Town Hall’s floor plan is not much different than its original plan. When the building opened in 1869, the front two rooms to the left were used as government offices and to the right was a reading room and library. The library moved out of town hall in 1881 to its current 9 Park Street location at The Emily Williston Library. Behind the front rooms is a large meeting area that was a multi-use room for community organizations. The back meeting room was renovated twice, once in 1918 for converted offices for the police department and once again in the early 1970s. In 1932 there was a fire in between the first and second floor but luckily there was little damage. It is thought that the interior tin veneer was added during the early 20th century renovation. The back meeting room has recently been restored to its initial hall style room and is rented by Flywheel Arts Collective. The upper floor of the Town hall is a great room with a balcony and stage. It has had numerous uses such as minstrel shows, a movie theatre, Easthampton High School proms, policeman balls, and basketball games. The hall is currently not open to the public. Plans to restore the grand hall are under way. See more information on CitySpace’s plans.

So many stories have been made in the Easthampton’s old Town Hall. Share your images and stories with us!

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