Historic Mason Town Hall added to the national registry

  • A historic photo of the Mason Town Hall. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/28/2018 10:02:46 AM

The 170-year old Mason Town Hall has been added to the state’s registry of historic places.

The building, as it stands today, was constructed in 1848, for the sum of $1,200. It was the third meeting house built in Mason, built beyond the passage of the Toleration Act of 1819, which separated the use of the town hall from church services. It has served as a function hall for the town, and once housed its town offices and police station.

Today, the Town Hall has settled gracefully into a semi-retirement, still used as the town’s polls for voting, by Boy Scouts for meetings, school fairs and events, rentals and containing the office for the building director.

The building is in need of a roof replacement, Mason Administrative Assistant Kathy Wile said in an interview Wednesday. In March, voters approved an assessment of the building to determine if there were any other major issues before the town moves forward on the roof replacement.

“From there, we went to the state’s preservation division, to see if there might be some grants available,” Wile said. “We found there are matching grants available, but you have to be on the state register. It all started from there.”

The town applied to have the Town Hall added to the state’s historic register. But now that they’ve been successful once, Wile said, the town hopes to continue the trend with other town buildings with a long history.

“We’re already working on our next one,” she said. “We’re hoping we can do the same thing with the Sunny Valley School.”

The Sunny Valley School, also known as School House #5, is the town’s former one-room school, Wile said.

The Mason Town Hall is historically significant for both its history as a town and community building, and for its architecture. 

The Town Hall had a small fire with minor damage in 1923, and was wired for electricity in 1926, and underwent a major renovation in 1885, but its exterior looks much the same as when it was built. It’s fashioned in the Greek revival style, which was popular at the time, both in town buildings – eight other New Hampshire towns have similar historical town houses built around the same time in a similar style – and in Mason. The Congregational Church, built in 1837 when Mason officially separated the meeting house and church, and the brick portion of the Mason Elementary School, which was formerly the Christian Church, built in 1834.

In the past, the building has been used for events such as the graduation ceremony for the high school, home to the Beck-Elliot Post, Woman’s Club, Andy’s Summer Playhouse and Good Fellowship Club. But the organization which used the building most regularly and for the longest time was the Fruitdale Grange.

The Grange formed in 1885 with 31 members. Its name reflected the peach and grape growers in town. It was the Grange members that helped to pay for the major interior renovations of the Hall in 1885, when the town added a stage, and enclosed the top of the building to create a second story, which became a kitchen. The Grange used the Hall until it disbanded, sometime after 1970. 

 

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


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