Ribbon-cutting ceremony, in conjunction with fall festival, to christen Whately’s old Town Hall

  • The refurbished Town Hall building on Chestnut Plain Road will host a ribbon-cutting and open house on Sunday. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • The second-floor meeting room, which will hold future annual Town Meetings, of the refurbished Town Hall building on Chestnut Plain Road. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • Dereka Smith of the Whately Historical Society adjusts a piece of ovoid pottery while setting up the historical society’s new room in the refurbished Town Hall on Chestnut Plain Road. The room will be opened to visitors for the annual fall festival on Sunday, the same day as a ribbon-cutting and open house for the building. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • Old silverware that is part of the Whately Historical Society’s collection. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • Ovoid pottery that is part of the Whately Historical Society’s collection. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • Ovoid pottery that is part of the Whately Historical Society’s collection. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2018 11:49:03 PM

WHATELY — A ribbon-cutting and open house on Sunday will christen the old Town Hall, which will serve as the home for a Whately Historical Society museum.

Wesfield Construction of West Chesterfield, N.H., made a winning $1,335,321 bid last year, and work was underway from November to June, with no delays.

Frederick Orloski, chairman of the Whately Municipal Building Committee and a member of the town Selectboard, said the refurbished structure has an air conditioning and heating system, fully accessible elevator and bathrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ribbon-cutting, slated for 11:30 a.m. at 194 Chestnut Plain Road, will cap off the rehabilitation project and will be immediately followed by self-guided tours.

The building features original exposed wood beam ceilings, refinished original wood floors with character markings, and a second staircase in the back. The ceiling light fixtures have been preserved and upgraded to LEDs, the windows were redesigned and storm windows were installed. The upstairs meeting room will once again host annual Town Meetings, fitting 135 people.

“That’s about how many we get,” Orloski said.

He remembers attending Town Meetings in the meeting room when his father, Walter, was a Selectboard member in the 1970s. He said Town Meetings have most recently been held at the elementary school.

One room on the first floor will be dedicated to the Whately Historical Society, which is holding its fall festival the same day as the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The society will have a limited display for anyone who would like a glimpse of Whately’s past.

There will be dozens of pieces of ovoid pottery, many made with Whately clay by local potter Thomas Crafts and some of his descendants, about six dolls, two clocks, furniture and silverware. The society’s collection, which has been stored at Whately Center School since the 1990s, also consists of musical instruments, farm memorabilia, textiles, gowns and games.

The fall festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature music by local band MilkBottle, Thomas Tyning with his snakes, and pies for sale. There will also be baked goods, hot dogs, hamburgers, beverages and free ice cream.

Orloski said the most recent Town Hall remodel, which took four years and cost $24,000, was in 1971. It has been repainted roughly every 10 to 15 years, with the most recent paint job having been done four years ago. There are now Wi-Fi and data points through the building and automated fire alarm system.

Despite the renovations, a vault door remains as an artifact in the women’s restroom with access for storage, and a large 1891 floor safe has been preserved and relocated inside the front entrance (with hardly a centimeter to spare). There is also improved drainage in the striped parking lot and continuous sidewalks along the building’s front and side.

The town is developing a community use policy for tenants and town boards and committees wishing to use the facility for meetings and events. The Selectboard is requesting public comment on the proposed use policy. Visit bit.ly/2xIOTDx to view the draft policy. Submit comments to townadmin@whately.org on or before Sept. 26.

The Selectboard is also arranging for routine professional maintenance for the building, and is seeking a volunteer operations monitor.

 Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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