When Ben Abbot, who made his money making barrels, gave Marblehead its signature building he didn’t ask for much. “Name it after me.” That was it. But the hall that is visible all over town also shows up on the tax bills pretty regularly too. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s a great building with a fabulous history in a town that cherishes Abbot Hall’s bells and the shadow it casts over our town. But still, the scaffolding around the clock tower is something some of us have seen several times, and it’s not that pretty. Some of us have even climbed up there and stood on the wind vane just to see what it’s like to be the tallest thing in town for a few moments. But that’s another story. There will also be a staging area fenced off in the parking area. The project will start in April and be completed in November.
Built in 1877 to replace the little yellow Town House (1727), Abbot Hall still houses the Board of Selectmen and the Town Clerk, plus Marblehead’s museum, not to mention one of the most famous painting in the world, “The Spirit of ’76.”
This renovation project which began in 2012 and the funding was generously supported by Town Meeting and the voters. It will include some structural reinforcements in the bell tower, doors and windows upgrades, and securing the brick work in the tower. The four clockfaces will be removed during construction and restored to their original beauty offsite. The weathervane will also return in due course, also restored. The National Registry lists Abbot Hall as a historic site in the U.S. and the building is currently appraised at $3.3 million.Photos by Bill Purdin