City Hall (Salem, Massachusetts)
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||April 3, 1973|
History of the Salem City Hall
City Hall was built in 1837-38 under the supervision of Mayor Leverett Saltonstall and a committee appointed for that purpose. The cornerstone was laid on September 6, 1837. Artifacts buried beneath the cornerstone included copies of local newspapers, the Mayor's speech for the organization of City Government (May 9, 1836), and the new City Charter. The building was enlarged in 1878 by an extension in the rear which in no way altered its original appearance as seen from the street. The extension doubled the size of the building and brought all existing city offices under one roof.
In 1837, under the administration of President Andrew Jackson, the United States Treasury held a surplus in the amount of nearly Forty Million Dollars. This surplus was distributed to the various states, which in turn distributed this money to the cities and towns. City Hall was built from this surplus revenue, as Salem's share was nearly $34,000.00. The building and furnishings cost approximately $22,878.00 and when finished, and this is perhaps one of the few municipal structures in existence paid for without taxing the citizens.
City Hall was first occupied by the City Council on the evening of May 31, 1838. A formal dedication was held on June 8, 1838.
Since 1837, the building has served as the focal point for the decision making process in Salem. This two-story building was designed and constructed in style of Greek Revival. The original dimensions were 32 feet high, 45 feet wide and 68 feet long. The side and rear elevations are unadorned brick while the main facade is dressed granite. Three bays wide, this facade is broken by four giant pilasters, one on each corner and one on either side of the recessed center bay. The bays are set with tall windows, 6 over 6. The central entrance is reached by a short flight of granite steps; a cast iron lamp on a bracket projects from above. The tall front double doors are made of mahogany with brass studs outlining the center panels.
In 1979 an expansion was done specifically to house city archives. In 2010, an exterior elevator was installed to the back of the 1979 expansion. This was extremely important for complete handicapped access was installed to help modernize an existing historic public facility and to make accessibility to Salem City Hall available to everyone; especially for disabled residents to participate in basic services provided at Salem City Hall. These improvements were paid for with $300,000 from the U.S. Government. In 2012 a gigantic $2,000,000 restoration that is set to be completed in 2013. This renovation will be for total exterior work & the repairs will replace or repair the brick walls, roof and windows on Salem City Hall.