HOOKSETT — Despite the fact that the building hasn’t been used in years, many residents and town officials are hopeful that the roughly 180-year-old Town Hall will be saved and used in some capacity.
Efforts have been underway for years to refurbish the building, but after a bit of a lull in work, Town Council Chair James Sullivan said that work is indeed being done with an eye toward completing the overhaul within the next few years.
“It is important to preserve because it’s the oldest building in town. It was built in 1828, so that is one of the reasons,” Sullivan said. “It’s also important to preserve because it is the original town hall, and while it hasn’t been used much recently, ideally, once finished, we could use it for committee meetings and maybe the occasional private use.”
Currently, Sullivan said the plan for the old Town Hall calls for the top floor to be removed in order to make the building just like it’s original one-room form when it was first built.
“We are in the process of doing that, we have most of the walls down, and volunteers will come in and get the electrical (systems) out. Then the second floor will be used as a staging area to fix the old tin roof, and when that is done, we will take out the second floor completely,” Sullivan said.
Recently, a new ramp allowing wheelchair access and connecting the old town hall to the Prescott Library just went in.
“We are just waiting for the railings to be put in,” Sullivan said.While unsure what the final price tag for the project will be, Sullivan said it will be nowhere close to the $1 million estimate given to the town four years ago.“That estimate included keeping the second floor, which we are not going to do,” Sullivan said.
Regardless of price, for many residents keeping the town hall up and active is a matter of great importance.
“I think it should be put back to the way it originally was,” longtime Hooksett resident Gloria Levasseur said.
“It is a historic spot that was always the go-to place for all the wonderful things in our lives. For my family, fiftieth anniversaries, baby showers, and weddings were all held at the town hall. I think it should be kept because my family has a lot of history there.”
Sullivan said that the work being done on the old Town Hall is being paid for through a combination of town money, grant money, and private donations.“To me, any old building is worth saving, any building with history is worth it. I have lived all over, but I like this town, I like the way it looks and I think we should preserve it,” Arlene Longfellow said.