Second Town House (1862-1916)

1 Grove Street

At a meeting of the town, March 13, 1860, it was voted to build a town-house; and, agreeable to this vote, a town-hall of large dimensions was erected during the year 1860.

It is a large building, fifty-five feet by eighty-five feet. The hall is on the second story, and the entrance is by stone steps on the north end of the building.

This floor embraces a large hall, sixty-four and a half feet by fifty-five feet, and two anterooms, an entrance to hall and rooms, besides a passage-way to the attic, which is occupied by the Odd Fellows. The basement story is divided into four apartments, which are rented for various purposes, in the south of which the town library is placed.

It is a handsome and imposing edifice, but has never proved satisfactory for the purposes for which it was intended. The hall was constructed from an imperfect and incorrect plan, and which did not accord with any acoustic principles; so that both speaking and hearing are both difficult in the same. No remedy for this great defect has yet been devised, and it has to be endured with all of its inconveniences.

SOURCE: History of the Town of Peterborough (1876), pages 228.

But it was not until the meeting of March 13, 1860, which adjourned until Wednesday, March 14, that it was finally voted to build a new Town Hall. A committee of twenty-five of the leading men of the town were chosen to nominate a building committee to decide upon the location, the architecture, to let the contract, and complete the building prior to January 1, 1862. The committee decided to build a Town House 60 feet by 80 feet which, after some discussion, was located upon land belonging to the Phoenix Corporation at the southwest corner of Grove and Main Streets. The new Town House was completed in 1862 at a cost of $12,000. The most striking thing about it was the cupola. On its dome stood a gilded eagle four feet high with a wing span of six feet...

Economy prevailed a little too much in the building of  the Town Hall and within twenty years it was found both structurally weak and too small for the town's requirements. After four years of discussion, therefore, a committee was appointed in 1886 to make improvements and alterations not to exceed $10,000. The plan made practically a complete change in the building above the stores. The old roof surmounted by a cupola and eagle was removed, new gables were added and an addition was made on the west side of the building with a stage, heating and lighting apparatus, thus making the stage face east instead of north as formerly. There were accommodations on the main floor for five hundred persons, which was ample for the needs of the time. This building as it was made in 1862 was made from Peterborough bricks made at the brickyard owned by James Swan not far from the North Village. There were five stores under the building, that at the northwest corner being occupied from the very beginning by the John R. Miller Drug Store. For twenty-four years, it was also the post office. The store at the south end was used as the public library until the present library was built some thirty years later. The remodeled Town Hall continued in use until it was so badly damaged by fire in 1916 that a new building became necessary.

SOURCE: History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, (1954), Vol I, pages 106-107.

Designed to coordinate with the Historical Society building, under construction at the same time, it was modeled after Bulfinch's 1905 [sic 1806] redesign of Faneuil Hall in Boston. These 2 harmonizing buildings formed the core of the civic center on Grove Street. 

The Opera House, which stood on this location (1861-1916) was razed in 1917 after damage from 3 fires in 7 years. 

At a special town meeting, June 10th, 1916, by a vote of 324 to 14, the town approved $60,000 for this new building. Constructed by J.H. Mendell Co. of Manchester, it was completed in less than 1 year, despite labor and supply problems. It was a building for the people for generations to come an intended as an "inspiration for each ... structure in town."

SOURCE: Peterborough Heritage Commission (2007)

The Town House is noteworthy for its resemblance to Faneuil Hall in Boston. Substantial renovations to the interior were completed in 1995.

SOURCE: A Walking Tour of PETERBOROUGH New Hampshire

1916

The 1886 Town House burned.

1918-1989

The new Town House

SOURCE: Our Changing Town, Vol II, page 399

At a meeting of the town, March 13, 1860, it was voted to build a town-house; and, agreeable to this vote, a town-hall of large dimensions was erected during the year 1860.

It is a large building, fifty-five feet by eighty-five feet. The hall is on the second story, and the entrance is by stone steps on the north end of the building.

This floor embraces a large hall, sixty-four and a half feet by fifty-five feet, and two anterooms, an entrance to hall and rooms, besides a passage-way to the attic, which is occupied by the Odd Fellows. The basement story is divided into four apartments, which are rented for various purposes, in the south of which the town library is placed.

It is a handsome and imposing edifice, but has never proved satisfactory for the purposes for which it was intended. The hall was constructed from an imperfect and incorrect plan, and which did not accord with any acoustic principles; so that both speaking and hearing are both difficult in the same. No remedy for this great defect has yet been devised, and it has to be endured with all of its inconveniences.

SOURCE: History of the Town of Peterborough (1876), pages 228.