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
The 1886 Town House burned.
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.
Immediately after this  fire a Town Meeting was held on June 10, 1916, in the old Phoenix Mill building and it was voted to appropriate $60,000 to build a new Town Hall of two stories and to eliminate the stores. A committee of five was put in charge of the matter and it was voted that the town borrow and appropriate for the construction of the building a sum not to exceed $60,000. Until the new building was completed, Town Meetings were held in the Gem Theater which was then located on School Street on the present site of the Community Theater. The building as we know it was designed by B.F.W. Russell as architect and built by the J.H. Mendell Company of Manchester as general contractor. At the March meeting in 1917 an additional $8,000 was appropriated to provide for a tower, stage fittings, furniture, and interior painting. The building, costing a total of $68,000, was completed and open for inspection on Tuesday, March 5, 1918. It was first used for the Town Meetings a week later on March 12 of that year.
SOURCE: History of Peterborough, New Hampshire, Vol 1, pages 107-108.