Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2014 Preservation Award Winners
Photo of Northbridge Town Hall

Northbridge Town Hall • Northbridge

Rehabilitation & Restoration

The Northbridge Town Hall has served as the seat of local government since its construction in 1876. It is a Classical Revival-style, red-brick building located in the village of Whitinsville. The Whitin family, after which the village is named, owned most of the town’s industrial mill complexes for many years, and their family home once stood on the lot now occupied by the Town Hall. John and Charles Whitin financed the construction of the Town Hall building as a memorial to their parents, Paul and Betsey Whitin. Prior to the recent rehabilitation of the Northbridge Town Hall, its original doors, fascia, gutters, roofing, and masonry all needed repair. The original windows, which had been fabricated in the Whitin Mills, displayed the most serious deterioration: several windows were stuck in partially open positions, and a high percentage of paint had peeled, exposing the bare wood to the elements. Replacement windows on the ground floor of the building also presented a problem. The ground floor originally featured very narrow, paired, four over four double-hung windows. At some point during its history, a renovation resulted in replacement of these windows with single, one over one windows, recessed behind eight-inch-wide granite piers.

With the help of Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund pre-development and development grants, Northbridge was able to restore its Town Hall to its original appearance. Repairs included masonry and associated roofing and flashing work, painting and associated repairs to the wood elements including the portico entrances, and restoration of the wood windows. The awkward, ground-floor replacement windows were removed, and the originals replicated. Although the building’s trim had been painted various shades of white for more than 100 years, paint analysis revealed a dramatically different original paint scheme of two shades of brown, which was restored. An unnecessary, deteriorated fire escape was removed, and the original auditorium window that it had replaced was replicated. Even while facing economic restraints common in formerly industrial Massachusetts towns, Northbridge’s preservation and restoration of its Town Hall shows an extraordinary commitment to its municipally owned historic resources.

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