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New Ipswich

Town is facing building repairs

Historic facilities need structural repairs

NEW IPSWICH — The town has consulted a structural engineer to take a look at two town buildings, which may require repair in the coming year.

During a Select Board meeting on June 24, the board discussed the engineer’s first look at the Old Town Hall and School House No. 13, both of which will likely need some structural work if they are to remain standing.

The engineer took an observational survey of the Old Town Hall, which built in 1817 on Main Street, and, according to a report submitted to the board, found that a sill that supports the foundation of one of the walls is rotting. The engineer recommended that these issues be repaired or shored up before the building is used again for public gatherings.

The building was originally built to house town meetings and also provide space for a private academy. The academy eventually moved to another building, and the town expanded the building in 1869, removing the cupola and the second floor.

Today the building is usually the location for the White Elephant rummage sale that is held annually at the Children’s Fair in August. But at the Select Board meeting, Jay Hopkins questioned whether the Old Town Hall would be suitable for that use, noting that in the past few years there have been questions about whether the building is suitable for occupation, and that in the last few years the rummage sale has refrained from occupying floor space close to one of the walls.

Select Board member Becky Doyle replied that having heard a preliminary evaluation recommending against using the building for public gatherings, it would likely put the town in a bad spot in terms of liability to allow use of the building. Board member Woody Meiszner added that the board would have to review the final report, which was not completed at the time of the June 24 meeting, before making that decision. In an interview Monday, after receiving the report, Doyle said that the board would be reviewing it during its scheduled meeting tonight, and would discuss the building’s repairs and whether it would be able to be used for the Children’s Fair at that time.

Doyle added that the board had not received any estimates for the repair of the building yet. At the June 24 meeting, Select Board Chair George Lawrence told residents that the board would likely request funds to effect repairs via a warrant article in March, adding that the town does not currently have funds available.

The engineer also took a look at another historic town building, School House No. 13, built in 1814, which is now used for storage. The roof of the building is visibly sagging. Doyle told the board that the engineer only viewed the building from the outside, and has not determined the cause of the sag, but he said the issue will be addressed.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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