Work begins anew on saving old Town Hall in Hooksett
HOOKSETT – Hooksett residents may soon enjoy a bit of history, perhaps in time for the town bicentennial, if members of Town Hall Preservation committee are successful. The group, led by John Danforth, are moving forward with a plan to restore the old town hall building to its original configuration as a community center and function space.
Back in 1828, a local family deeded the land the town hall sits on to the newly formed town of Hooksett, specifically to be used as a place where the community could come together to meet, worship and learn. It evolved into the place of town governance.
Danforth describes the original layout of the building.
“It was a huge building. It had a stage at one end, there was sort of a balcony on the other end” said Danforth. “This is really one of the few buildings in town that connects right to the birth of the town.”
It was in later years that a second floor was built so more offices could be added.
“That second floor can’t stay,” said Danforth. “It has code issues.”
Five years ago, the Hooksett town offices were moved into the former Village School. Ironically, in 1936 the town hall served as a school house after the original Hooksett Village School was washed away in a huge flood. Now the old Town Hall sits unused. The Town Hall Preservation committee was formed to come up with a plan to restore and make use of the building.
Several years ago Arnold Green, owner of Green’s Marine in Hooksett, made a generous offer of money to restore the building if a matching amount could be raised. But at the time members of the committee were divided on what to do with the building, and if it was worth restoring at all.
“Some people wanted to sell it and be done with it,” said Danforth.
But the current committee is united toward the goal of restoring the Town Hall to its original glory.
“The building has an original tin ceiling still there” said Danforth. “It’s still intact. Very little damage. You don’t see those original ceilings anymore.”
Danforth said the group is looking grant money to cover the costs of having professionals assess what is needed.
“We’re going to have to have an engineer actually confirm there are no major issues with the structure.” he said.
The committee expects the restoration process to take many years but is hopeful to have things completed for Hooksett’s bicentennial in 2022.
Danforth welcomes any Hooksett resident interested in working on the project to come to the next meeting. A date is not currently set but will be posted on the town website under Boards and Committees.