NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The original trim color of Memorial Town Hall when it was built around 1872 was medium brown with a darker brown around the more decorative areas.
That information was determined in a study by Preservation Massachusetts after paint was painstakingly peeled, layer by layer, from the wood trim.
The official colors are chateau brown and quartersawn oak, a combination Mark Pepas, supervisor for Fox Painting of Arlington calls “peanut butter cup.’’
Fox Painting was the low bid to paint the trim in the Memorial Town Hall Renovation Project. Much of the work has been completed, a job that included power-washing trim around the roof line and entryways
Rotted sections of trim, most of it around areas where water gathers, has been removed and will be replaced, Pepas said. The red mahogany needed for replacement has been ordered, he said.
Pepas’ crew was not hired to do the trim around the windows. That project, the most expensive part of the $635,000 renovation plan, has not yet gone out to bid and will include total restoration of all windows and trim.
In her study, Preservation Consultant Susan Chase said it appears Town Hall has been painted 10 to 12 times, some areas more than others.
“…It was finally clear that originally two brown paints co‐existed: a dark tone, and a medium tone. That means that the lighter brown (“Quartersawn Oak”) was painted over every painted surface, and then certain surface details were “picked out” with the deep brown color (Chateau Brown). Such a practice was typical of Victorian painters,’’ she writes.
Originally built as a library, Memorial Town Hall is unusual in its design, Chase said.
“It certainly is a Victorian building. On the other hand, there is a strong neoclassical element in the two porticos and roofline with full classical entablature. Foundation blocks, steps, and belt bands of pink Milford granite further exemplify a classical design feature. That the two (classical and Victorian) design features can co‐exist harmoniously in a handsome building is impressive,” she notes.
Pepas and his crew, which began working on Town Hall Columbus Day weekend, expected it would take three weeks to complete their portion of the project.
Memorial Town Hall is listed on the State Register of Historic Buildings.
Voters last May approved $635,000 for the project, the bulk of that for window restoration. The Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund through the Massachusetts Historical Commission provided a grant of $45,000.