NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Heritage Association has signed a five-year lease with the town to control the former Town Hall on Main Street for $1 a year, and could move forward with plans to create a museum in the historic building.
The structure, built in 1921, held several town offices before the recent move to the newly-renovated former Kendall Dean school on Green Street. A two-story brick building with neo-Georgian architecture, it was reportedly built as a memorial to North Smithfield residents who served in World War I.
According to the NSHA newsletter, historic records state the structure “achieves a measure of dignity by virtue of its appropriately civic, monumental facade and its situation atop high ground at the center of the village.” Previously, the site had held a long-established hotel and boarding house.
NSHA officials note that it features a, “collossal tetrastyle portico, full entablature, and pediment.”
The agreement to lease the building to the NSHA was approved by the Town Council earlier this month. While the group now has effective control of the structure according to the agreement, the town will pay the cost of maintenance, snow plowing and utilities of up to $7,200 per year.
“The Heritage Association is excited about preserving this building as it is for as long as we can,” said NSHA President Richard Keene. “The building
is iconic to Slatersville. When you think about the village of Slatersville, you’ve got the Memorial Town Building and you’ve got the church. Those are the two bookends, I would say, what stands out in people’s minds.”
Town Administrator Gary Ezovski suggested that the building could become a museum, and while its future has yet to be decided, plans could call for a visitor center, community center, or cultural center. Several town boards have continued to meet at the property, which, until recently, housed the town administrator’s office and Planning Department.
The agreement stipulates that no changes can be made to the exterior of the structure or historic features remaining inside.
NSHA has scheduled a public open house in the building on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to noon. A public hearing will also be held to engage the community for input on potential uses.
“It’s my belief that that building is iconic to the village of Slatersville and the entire town, and it’s in our interest to make every effort to preserve it as it is and find an appropriate use that supports that interest,” Ezovski said.
Councilor unanimously approved the agreement with NSHA, with several expressing support for their preservation efforts.
The group also maintains two other historic town properties; the Grange Hall on Green Street, which is used as a community meeting space, and a building known as “the Little Red Schoolhouse,” on School Street, a former one-room school.