With Town Meeting season upon us, we looked back a couple years to find advice along with the struggles. Here’s an inspiring profile of the recent Wolfeboro Town Hall project that is scalable to projects of all size. Commendable persistence and a strong public-private partnership helped revive the civic heart of this downtown.
Built in 1890, the Romanesque Revival Brewster Memorial Hall was designed to house town offices along with three commercial storefronts that would generate income for the building’s upkeep. The large second floor hall hosted town meetings, movies, concerts and dances until the 1980s when it was closed due to lack of code compliance.
In 2007, the town hired an architect to fully rehabilitate the aging building, but voters rejected the $6.7 million price tag, as well as a subsequent less expensive version. The Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall supported an incremental approach, and they hired new experts, hosted community forums, got funding to restore the tower clock, raised pledges of nearly $1 million and got out the vote for a third –and successful--warrant article request in March 2014 for just $4 million. The group meet every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. to maintain momentum.
The slate roof was repaired and masonry repointed. Office layouts were improved, energy upgrades were made, an elevator was added, all interior woodwork was preserved, and major staircases were retained and rehabilitated. Removal of the 20th century dropped ceiling in the Great Hall revealed a handsome wood truss system and dormer windows,
Since the re-dedication in late 2015, this well-loved building is also very well-used, bringing new appreciation for historic preservation and a renewed sense of community pride and vitality.
Town of Wolfeboro
Rehabilitation of Brewster Memorial Hall
Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall
Conneston Construction, Inc.
Northeast Collaborative Architects