Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2013 Preservation Award Winners
North Chelmsford Town Hall

North Chelmsford Town Hall • Chelmsford

Rehabilitation & Restoration

The Greek Revival-style North Chelmsford Town Hall was constructed in 1853 as the town’s first freestanding town house; it was enlarged in 1886. Town meetings alternated between North Chelmsford Town Hall and the Old Town Hall, built in the center of town in 1879, until the town voted in 1885 to hold all meetings in the newer, central Old Town Hall. For many years thereafter, the North Chelmsford Town Hall served as a polling place and community center, hosting local clubs, benefits, lectures, plays, and dances. From 1967 to 1981, the building housed the town’s School Administration offices. Thereafter, until its recent rehabilitation, it had stood vacant, used only for storage, and covered by vinyl siding that obscured its exterior’s distinguishing architectural elements.

In January 2009, the local Housing Authority announced it was buying the North Chelmsford Town Hall and the Old Town Hall, with plans to turn the buildings into seventeen residential units. Chelmsford residents rallied to prevent the sale, convincing the town to restore the buildings and return them to community use. In April 2010, Town Meeting approved $5.5 million of Community Preservation Act funds for the restoration projects, and work began in the fall of 2011. The North Chelmsford Town Hall’s vinyl siding was removed, revealing features such as dentils and pilastered cornerboards. Members of the Chelmsford Historical Commission carefully searched the structure for evidence of early paint finishes, and returned the building to its 1886 colors. With the exception of an original attic window, all windows were replaced with windows that matched the originals. At the interior, all wood floors were refinished and all wood trim was restored or replaced with new molding milled to match the older wood. The ceiling of the upper hall was repaired, and now has both recessed lights and period-appropriate chandeliers based on one that had been found in the attic. The North Chelmsford Town Hall reopened as the town’s Community Center on September 14, 2012. The rehabilitation has reinstated an underutilized building as a source of civic pride and a significant community resource.

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