15 (Slightly Fun) Facts about Easthampton Old Town Hall (and its dedication)

Old Town Hall Easthampton
Old Town Hall Easthampton

1. It took only one year to build Old Town Hall.

Postcards of Mount Tom

2. The foundation was made of Mt. Tom sandstone from the quarry of J.L. Bassett, and of granite from the quarry of W. N. Flynt of Monson.

Lieutenant Governor speaks

3. The Lieutenant Governor was taken by surprise when asked to speak.

“His Honor Lieutenant Governor Tucker, upon being introduced, said that he was not aware he was to speak until he arrived in town that day. The unpleasantness of the surprise was mitigated, however, by the announcement on the programme that the remarks were to be brief.”

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Old Town Hall Tower

4. The tallest tower ends with crosses that form a lightning rod.

At the north corner of the building stands a tower ten and one-half feet square and seventy-five feet high. At the south corner is the Memorial Tower, twelve feet square and one hundred and thirty-three and one-half feet high. The tower ends in a short spire, and the lightning rod has been made to end with three ornamental crosses. The building’s outside dimensions, exclusive of the towers, are one hundred and four feet in length by sixty feet in width.

Town Meeting Easthampton, Massachusetts Old Town Hall

5. First Town Hall meetings were held where Flywheel is now located and the second floor was held for special events. Later the town meetings grew into the second floor.

Old Town Hall Williston Ticket

6. The ticket offices for second-floor events in Old Town Hall were located in both towers on the second-floor stairs.

Suffrage

7. Women were not allowed to attend and vote in Town Meetings until the 19th amendment was passed 50 years later.

Horatio Knight

8. The chairman of Town Hall Building committee, Horatio Knight, would later become the 30th Lt. Governor in 1875.

Emily Williston Library

9. Before Emily Williston Memorial Library opened its doors on Park Street in 1881, a library was established in Town Hall.

The First Library Association of Easthampton was organized in 1792 by Reverend Payson Williston, Samuel Williston’s father. Later, Samuel Williston established the library on the first floor of Town Hall. Founding lifetime members paid $50 each to establish the library while members paid a dollar a year to check out books. That’s a little over $17 in 2019.

W.S. Clark Boys, Be Ambitious Japan Easthampton, MA Old Town Hall

10. Boys, Be Ambitious!

W. S. Clark,  a known Easthamptonite who attended the ceremonies, was a man who had done well by becoming the third president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also made a dent internationally by becoming the advisor to Sapporo Agricultural College, now Hokkaido University in Japan where he coined the phrase, “Boys, be ambitious” — a nationally known motto in Japan.

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Charles E. Parker architect

11. Architect Charles E. Parker of Boston specialized in City Halls and churches, overlapping in architectural style.

He designed Keene Town (City) Hall, Chicopee City Hall, Isaac Davis Monument in Acton, Massachusetts, First Congregational Church in North Adams, Massachusetts, and Eliot Church in Newton, Massachusetts… to name a few.

12. Stonework throughout the structure is elaborate, and it is noticeable that scarcely any two pedestals, or capitals of the numerous columns, are of the same style.

Civil War Soldiers Old Town Hall easthampton, Massachusetts

13. The building is a memorial to the civil war soldiers from Easthampton. 

Disabled soldiers were part of the dedication procession, riding in carriages. The Soldiers’ tablet cost $2000 (that’s over $36,000 in 2019) and is twelve feet in height.

Opera singer Adelaide Phillips

14. Opera singer Adelaide Phillips and eighteen members of the Germania Band of Boston performed for over 1100 people at the Town Hall dedication. Upon opening the building's capacity could hold close to 1600 people on the second floor (fire codes were a little different then). 

Old Town Hall Easthampton, Massachusetts

15. The cost of Old Town Hall was $65,000 (About $1,223,969 in 2019). The Town Hall was built with consideration of the growing future population — the population of Easthampton in 1869 was about 3600.

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150 Years ago on June 29,1869, the dedication of Old Town Hall occurred with blue skies above. The event was quite a to-do. At 1 p.m., a parade of bands, military representatives, and citizens processed from Shop Row to Park Street, from Park through Center, Union, High, Prospect, Pleasant and Main Streets to the Hall. If you can imagine, Main Street looked very different then with prominent Williston Seminary buildings across the street from the Hall. Samuel Williston the founder of the seminary, was named President over the day’s proceedings and kicked-off the dedication following the procession. Like so many other aspects of Easthampton, Williston was instrumental in making the historic Hall. His business partner Horatio Knight led the Building Committee that commenced with a small group then grew quickly until every interest of the town was represented. Hence subcommittees were formed (Easthampton still loves a subcommittee). That evening a concert by Miss Adelaide Phillips and eighteen members of the Germania Band of Boston was attended by 1100 people on the Second Floor.

In his address to the crowd, Hon. Ensign II. Kellogg said, “Easthampton is a perpetual monument to the value of a diversity of pursuit in a community.”

Easthampton’s Old Town Hall was opened and for over 130 years of use where town meetings were held, taxes were paid, marriage certificates were purchased, and friends were bailed out of jail.Now as a building held for arts and culture we celebrate its history and look to its future as a place for the community to gather time and time again. Happy Birthday, Old Town Hall!

Support Old Town Hall

150 Years ago on June 29,1869, the dedication of Old Town Hall occurred with blue skies above. The event was quite a to-do. At 1 p.m., a parade of bands, military representatives, and citizens processed from Shop Row to Park Street, from Park through Center, Union, High, Prospect, Pleasant and Main Streets to the Hall. If you can imagine, Main Street looked very different then with prominent Williston Seminary buildings across the street from the Hall. Samuel Williston the founder of the seminary, was named President over the day’s proceedings and kicked-off the dedication following the procession. Like so many other aspects of Easthampton, Williston was instrumental in making the historic Hall. His business partner Horatio Knight led the Building Committee that commenced with a small group then grew quickly until every interest of the town was represented. Hence subcommittees were formed (Easthampton still loves a subcommittee). That evening a concert by Miss Adelaide Phillips and eighteen members of the Germania Band of Boston was attended by 1100 people on the Second Floor.

In his address to the crowd, Hon. Ensign II. Kellogg said, “Easthampton is a perpetual monument to the value of a diversity of pursuit in a community.”

Easthampton’s Old Town Hall was opened and for over 130 years of use where town meetings were held, taxes were paid, marriage certificates were purchased, and friends were bailed out of jail. Now as a building held for arts and culture we celebrate its history and look to its future as a place for the community to gather time and time again. Happy Birthday, Old Town Hall!