City Hall (Lawrence, MA)


The only thing that remains of the Old City Hall is the cupola and base and bell and the eagle perched on top.  The original building was built in 1849.  On its stage platform would appear a variety of entertainers and public events over a number of decades.  The county courts were held in City Hall until the Court House was built.  A number of local churches used the hall as a place of worship until their own building could be constructed.  Civil War volunteers would drill there and Sumner Needham’s flag draped coffin would lie there in state.  There would be balls, political rallies, and religious revivals.  The hall would serve the purpose of a morgue during the Pemberton Mill disaster and memorial services would be held for Presidents Taylor, Lincoln, and Garfield.

Before the Town House was constructed city business was conducted in Merrimack Hall and later the Free Will Baptist Meeting House.  The site on Common Street between Appleton and Pemberton Streets was selected and construction was started in 1848.  The old building was 120 feet 8 inched long and 68 feet 8 inches wide.  The granite base extended the total size 3 inches all around.  The tower was 23 by 24 feet.  Charles Bean supervised the construction.  The Town House was finished and dedicated December 10, 1849.  In 1850the basement was fitted with jail cells where they remained until 1854.  Later the free evening school was located in the same space from 1859 to 1860.  The Town House became City Hall when Lawrence became incorporated as a city in 1853.  Renovations were done in 1918 and significant increase in size.


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