By Seth Daniel
While work on the inside of the old Memorial Hall on Green Street has continued on the inside for the past year, and several milestones have been met, now work is getting ready to start outside – and an exciting new partner has come forward to help.
Joe Zuffante of the Abraham Lincoln Post, which oversees the hall and has a clubhouse based there, said the North Bennet Street School in the North End has come forward to help work on the exterior and the cupola on top.
“The North Bennet Street School has come forward and said they want to help with the exterior,” said Zuffante. “They are going to fix the front entrance and do work on the cupola. That will bring the cupola to its original beauty. They do very good work.”
That work is going to be in combination with restoration work on the northern side that will begin imminently.
To get that started, the Post won a $44,000 grant from the Henderson Foundation to begin sealing and fixing the north side of the hall this fall.
“We have enough right now to do the north side of the building on the outside because it’s the one that’s in the worst shape,” he said. “This is the side we’re going to spend the grant money on. We need to seal the entire thing up and fix a lot of problems.”
However, the Save Memorial Hall effort is going to require some real help from the community.
“To get all of the outside done, it’s going to take about $300,000,” he said, adding that there is a Facebook page for Save Memorial Hall that takes donations.
Inside, things are very close to being where the Post had hoped.
The hall is progressing nicely since the Post inked a lease/work agreement with the Brazilian Church that occupies the second floor – the old dance hall room.
With the wood floors recently done over, new bathrooms installed, a kitchen on the way and many other problems solved, Zuffante said they are so close to being done that it is quite exciting for all involved.
“It is so close to being done and it really seems like it’s back in the kind of form we always wanted,” he said.
The church has a long-term lease with the Post at a very favorable rate in exchange for bearing the expense of building out the space to their needs – including the bathrooms, kitchen and other needs.
Samuel Dexter originally built the hall as a home on Green Street when less than 2,000 people lived in Charlestown. He built a grand, Federal-style mansion, sparing no expenses and included ornate exterior woodwork features and a tree-lined garden extending down to Main Street. The Dexter Estate, sold in 1800 and then again in 1887 to the GAR, was renamed ‘Memorial Hall’ and has remained a community resource and meeting place for Charlestown veterans and the community ever since.
Visit the effort on the Web at www.abrahamlincolnpost11.com to learn more about Memorial Hall. Please join them on Facebook at Abraham Lincoln Post 11 GAR to follow the progress.
To make a donation: Go to “Restore Memorial Hall” on the GoFundMe page or send a check payable to the Friends of Memorial Hall, 14 Green St., Charlestown, MA 02129. The group is a 501 (c) 3 organization, so all donations are tax deductible.