NORTH HAMPTON — The town’s historical Centennial Hall recently received a $103,000 donation to aid in its restoration and continued rebirth.
The donation by the trust of Josephine Moulton Weston, a 1924 alumni of the former school, was given to the Friends of Centennial Hall (FOCH). The nonprofit group purchased the building in 1998, saving it from demolition. The group’s mission is the “restoration and renovation” of the historic building, which it now owns outright and mortgage free.
“We are tremendously thankful to the family of Josephine Weston, as a gift of this magnitude will advance opening access to our second-floor grand ballroom and stage, which when completed, will add a large and versatile assembly space to our present capacity,” said FOCH President Marcy McCann.
Completed for the nation’s centennial in 1876, the building served as the town’s school and social center, holding dances, private club meetings and a functioning theater.
Centennial Hall, at 105 Post Road, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
“We are a revitalization success story,” McCann said. “Buildings like ours help distinguish the character of our town, and we are tremendously proud of the resource we have become.”
The building currently has a renovated first floor and basement studio space, and is home to six tenants providing instruction in music, art, bridge and fitness.
According to McCann, there aren’t any specific restoration or renovation projects immediately planned, but goals include repair work on the original mansard slate roof, clapboard, trim and exterior paint.
“A fully restored Centennial Hall will offer four full floors of easily usable and in-demand space with classrooms, music studios, meeting and performance space as well as a catering kitchen,” McCann said.
Perhaps most significantly, restoration plans include re-opening access to the second-floor grand ballroom and 225-person capacity theater, as well as a third-floor function hall. In order to comply with safety codes, the top two floors need a sprinkler system and elevator to make the building ADA compliant.
With a grant, FOCH is working with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance to conduct a preservation assessment, to determine the priority and scheduling of short-, mid- and long-term projects.
For those who haven’t visited Centennial Hall yet, visitors can drop by Saturday, Dec. 2, for a reception after the town’s tree lighting. Centennial Hall will offer guests cider, punch and locally made apple cider doughnuts.