The cost of preserving a town’s history

  • The Peterborough Town House will be receiving a laundry list of repairs and renovations equaling $1 million this spring.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 12:22PM

The Peterborough Town House will receive a spring sprucing in time for its 100th anniversary, to the tune of $1 million.

Voters at the 2017 May Town Meeting were sweepingly in favor of the measure, with only eight of the 130 residents voting against the prospect of repairing the Town House’s roof and floors, improving the entryways to be more accessible, and improving the audio/visual improvements to the Town House’s top floor.

“Our anticipation is to get going in the spring,” said Seth MacLean, operations manager for the town of Peterborough, in an interview in December. “And the goal is to be completed by the fall of 2018.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Town House. Construction on the current building started in 1916 and was completed in 1918, after the previous town hall burned in a fire. The town is planning a centennial celebration toward the end of the year. All repairs are planned to be finished by the time that happens, said MacLean.

“So we have a hard timeframe to get this done,” he said. 

While voters were willing to bear the entire cost of the bond, they were informed from the beginning that the town would be seeking funds from the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP. 

It was announced earlier this month that LCHIP would be awarding Peterborough $200,000 of its $250,000 request for the renovations, though that money is limited specifically to renovations that preserve the Town House’s historical character. In other words, the $200,000 that the town wants to put toward improvements to the top floor’s audio/visual capabilities aren’t eligible. 

MacLean said that the LCHIP funds mean that some of the money raised by the taxpayers will go back to them. 

But the vast majority of the improvements planned are to go toward replacing the building’s original slate roof – the single most expensive item, estimated to cost $270,000. But that’s not the extent of the roof repairs the town is hoping to do. Another $104,000 will go to repairing the ornamental molding around the edge of the roof, putting in new measures to prevent ice dams and snow guards. 

There will be a major overhaul of the front entrance, raising the brick walkway to align with the main entrance, as well as overhauling the entrance to the top floor auditorium, to make them more accessible to residents with mobility issues. 

The maple floors in the lobby and auditorium, which has been worn down to half its original size since the building was constructed, will be replaced.