Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2013 Preservation Award Winners
Needham Town Hall

Needham Town Hall • Needham

Rehabilitation & Restoration

The Boston architectural firm Winslow and Bigelow designed the Georgian Revival-style Needham Town Hall, which was constructed in 1903 by Mead, Mason & Company of Boston. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The last town meeting was held in the second-floor auditorium in 1952. The auditorium was subsequently divided into small offices arranged along a central corridor, with a suspended acoustic ceiling installed eight feet above the floor level, drastically decreasing the volume of the space. In 2007, the town embarked upon a plan that would address overcrowding in the building, as well as the need for restoration due to years of deferred maintenance. Accessibility, outdated building systems, egress, and overall fire protection were all issues to be addressed. The community expressed a strong desire to restore the original auditorium, but a major challenge was accommodating office space that would be displaced by restoring the auditorium.

The restoration of the Needham Town Hall included cleaning and repointing of exterior masonry, restoration of deteriorated and missing wood trim, and rehabilitation of original wood windows and doors. Slate and copper roofs were replaced, and the 80-foot-high clock tower and cupola were restored, including clock repair and application of gold leaf to the dome. Envelope performance was enhanced with the addition of insulation and interior secondary glazing. A three-story, 12,590-square-foot addition created new office space so that the auditorium could be restored to its original design and purpose. At the interior, modern partitions were removed to return the floor plan to the original 1903 layout. Historic photographic evidence and in-situ elements were used to replicate missing ornamental plaster features in the auditorium. Multiple layers of floor finishes were removed, and original wood floors restored. New, efficient HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and electrical systems were installed in a manner respectful of the historic fabric. Underutilized basement space was improved by excavation, underpinning, and installation of a new floor slab. The building was rededicated on November 5, 2011, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the town’s founding, and on November 7, 2011, the first town meeting since 1952 was held in the restored auditorium. As it enters its second century, Needham Town Hall is once again the civic and cultural heart of the community.

< < 7 of 12 > >