Shortly after 7 a.m. on Sept. 18, excavator operator Dana DeBlois of Groveton used the bucket to push in clapboards and also to claw existing window openings into ever-larger holes. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
September 25, 2013WHITEFIELD — The 164-year-old Whitefield Town Hall, whose clock tower was removed five years ago when the selectmen's awareness of structural deficiencies forced town employees to move to other quarters, was demolished on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Dana DeBlois of Groveton, who works for A.B. Logging Inc. of Lancaster, used a Komat'su PC 210 LC excavator to bring down the building that has been used only for storage since 2007. The contractor charged $33,600, with the town retaining all salvage rights.
The Town Hall was built as a church. It originally served the Baptists and the Methodists, who used the structure on alternate Sundays, according to a short popular history published by the Town of Whitefield: "A History of Whitefield, N. H — 1774 to 1974," written by Kim Nilsen, then a reporter for the "Coös County Democrat."
The building was constructed in 1849 and then when the railroads come to town was moved to its modern-day location at the corner of High Street (now Lancaster Road-Route 3) and Jefferson Road (Route 116).
Although some pink fiberglass insulation could be seen during demolition, basic maintenance and modernization projects were not regularly undertaken and eventually a sagging leaking roof led to substantial rotting and spreading mold.
Town Planning Board chairman Ed Betz, a civil engineer who also serves as chairman of the Capital Improvement Committee, said in a Thursday morning telephone interview that he was sad to see the building torn down but that anticipates that voters in March 2014 would have a chance to consider whether or not to build a new town hall on town-owned land next to the Emergency Services (firehouse) building on Route 116 South. The selectmen have already been shown very plans for a modest hybrid town offices building, half "stick-built" and half modular, designed to keep down the proposed building's total cost.
Enough code-compliant space would be available to house town employees, such as an administrative assistant, tax collector and town clerk, as well as fire, EMS and police services, including temporary holding facilities for both adults and juveniles.