STOW – The Town of Stow and the Town Hall Restoration Committee are asking residents for feedback and opinions about the future renovation of the historic building in the town center.
The town has posted the survey here. Residents’ voices will be critical in directing the Restoration Committee’s next steps.
The Building Use Committee determined in 2017 that Town Hall has a useful future. The Board of Selectmen formed the Town Hall Restoration Committee to assess the building and its potential uses. The project meets the stated goals of the Community Preservation Plan: “The overall goal of the Stow Community Preservation Committee is to identify and preserve essential elements of Stow so that our ‘sense of place’ is maintained even as inevitable growth and change occur.”
The Restoration Committee learned during the assessment that one way to make a building “healthy” is to use it. Town Hall will need significant work to be used regularly. It will have to meet modern construction codes such as wiring, plumbing, accessibility and increased energy efficiency.
The committee has determined that a more limited project will greatly restrict Town Hall’s future use. For example, the full proposal will include a lift between the first and second floors. If the lift were not installed, the lower floor will be accessible only from the sidewalk/street along Route 117/Great Road.
The main hall and adjunct spaces may be used at a full capacity of 200 people once the project is complete.
Town Hall is an important space historically. It was built in 1848, in Greek revival style, by architect, carpenter and millwright Micah Smith, who also designed the First Parish Church in town. It was used for generations as the seat of town government and for countless public events.
A full renovation is estimated to cost about $3.5 million, which includes escalation and contingency funding. Community Preservation Act funds may be used to pay for a restoration/preservation project, even though there may be many non-historic changes such as insulation, heating/ventilation/air conditioning and a lift. These items cannot be considered historic preservation if undertaken separately.
The survey will be open until March 7. Restoration Committee members will schedule a public forum to share survey results and update the public about the committee’s work once the survey is complete.
The Restoration Committee is working with the architectural firm Mills Whitaker on the production of building documents and budgets to be presented to Town Meeting this year.