HOOKSETT — Town officials have received the first $4,850 of a $9,700 grant from the state to perform restorative millwork on the singing gallery of Hooksett’s Old Town Hall.
The grant, which comes from the state’s Division of Historical Resources Conservation License Plate Grant Program, provides up to $10,000 to Granite State municipalities for the preservation and restoration of publicly owned historic structures.
Located on 16 Main St. in Hooksett, the Old Town Hall was in continuous public use from its 1828 construction until 2008, and has been used for everything from town meetings and elections to church services and wedding ceremonies.
In a news release, town officials announced that the grant funding will go toward covering the costs of hiring historically minded craftspeople and procuring materials with the hope of beginning construction sometime this spring.
Labeling the structure as a “hallmark of the town’s history,” Town Council Chair Peter Sullivan remarked on the great deal of progress the town has made in restoring local artifacts.
“We’ve certainly come a long way,” said Sullivan of work that’s previously been done to restore the Old Town Hall’s original tin ceilings and windows.
“I’m very pleased that we’re able to get that through the Moose Plate grant,” he said. “That’s a fantastic program that the state allows towns to take advantage of. We’re very happy with that whole thing.”
The gallery, added to the building around 1839, once featured intricate millwork and paneling that was eventually covered up during later renovations.
The news release said the singing gallery was damaged over time but there was enough remaining to serve as a model for restoration, which was important because of “limited photographic evidence of the feature as it originally existed.”
The announcement comes as Hooksett residents head to the polls to vote on a warrant article that would devote $200,000 from the town’s unassigned fund balance toward renovating non-historical features like the building’s heating, plumbing and electrical infrastructure.
If and when the structure is brought back up to code, town officials say they intend to open it to the public once again as a multi-use meeting space.