Reach Twp. History
  Town Hall 1873
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  1850 Tornado
  Steamboat Era
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  Fire of 1883
  Fire of 1884
  Other Fires
  Ice Harvesting
  Grain Elevator
  Union School 1873





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Town Hall 1873

   More than 125 years after Port Perry's Town Hall opened for use, it remains one of the most important and imposing historical structures in the town.
   Discussions about construction of a new town hall began in 1871, but it wasn't until almost a year later that plans finally got underway.
   In February 1872, the subject of building a town hall for the new corporation of Port Perry was brought up at a council meeting, which resulted in the forming of a committee, consisting of Reeve Joseph Bigelow and councillor Tate, Philippo and Sexton to obtain plans and the possible cost of building a suitable town hall.
   About six months later, Port Perry council passed a by-law at one of their regular meetings, to debenture $10,000 for organizing a fire department, securing a fire engine and to build a town hall.
   They settled on a site on the south-west corner of Queen and Lilla (Simcoe) St., owned by Benjamin Crandell. Mr. Crandell sold the lot to the village for $1,000, and construction got underway during the summer of 1873. Most of the exterior work was completed that year, with work on the inside taking place throughout the winter.


   In March, the editor of the Observer filed the following progress report: "We had the pleasure the other day of visiting our new Town Hall. The mason work is being done in a manner which would do credit to any of our cities and fairly establishes the reputation of Mr. Wm. Spence, as one of our most skillful contractors.
   The ceiling is really handsome, surrounded by a fine cornice about six feet wide with some six or eight centre pieces. This hall will be no less an ornament to the village than a credit to the liberality, enterprise and intelligence of its inhabitants.
   From the appearance of things the Town Hall will be dry and thoroughly ready for use in a couple of months, and we would say by all means let us have an opening worthy of so splendid a building."
   It appears there never was a special celebration or official opening of the new Town Hall, as work seemed to plod along for the next few months. Council purchased 75 bench seats for the hall in March at 35 per foot, and by June the Town Hall's handsome new tower was finally installed.
   Exterior bricking was underway when council received an offer from a Mr. Jones of Markham to supply a bell for the Town Hall on a trial basis, and if considered satisfactory the cost to the town would be $120. It is unclear if this offer was accepted.
   Even in its uncompleted state, the building began to be used for a number of events over the next few months, including a concert, church services and an election meeting for Reeve Joseph Bigelow, when the hall was described as still "naked of bricks on its lofty walls, had gaping joists and was in a general uncompleted state."
   The hall came under the scrutiny of the Observer editor once again in the spring of 1875, when he complained of the inadequate lighting in the building. "Some six pieces of rusty crooked iron with four rush lights sticking on the ends of them are dignified with the title of chandeliers and made to do duty by furnishing sufficient glimmer so that people may not run up against each other or stumble over the benches," he wrote.


   He also commented on the state of the bell tower, saying "it is certainly no credit to this thriving town to have a bell tower on our splendid Town Hall, looking down like a great dummy through its leather spectacles on the passers by. One looks up for a clock and finds the bottom of a flour barrel meeting his gaze. One thousand dollars will place a suitable four dial clock in the bell tower."
   In May 1875 council discuss the merits and necessity of a bell and clock for the town hall, but no decision was made at that time.
   Estimated cost to build the hall in 1873 was about $6,000.

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