In 1852 town meeting voted to appoint a committee to investigate the construction
of a new Town Hall to replace the long-inadequate 1792 structure at the Upper Common.
After several years of wrangling over where to locate the building, the building committee
agreed that the hall should be built just south of the Upper Common.
appropriated $20,000 with $14,000 earmarked for the building, $2,000 for furnishings
and $4,000 for the land.
When all the bids came in higher than the allotted amount,
one of the building committee members, Col. Ivers Phillips, resigned and agreed to
build the building for that sum of money.
He assembled a local stone mason, carpenter,
timber framer, brick-maker and a team of laborers to build the Town Hall, completing
the task in time for the dedication ceremony on January 7, 1853.
The two story Italianate design featured brick walls on a granite foundation with
brick pilasters and granite lintels, and a gently sloped slate roof. The design
featured offices on the first floor and a large auditorium meeting room with balconies
on the second floor. By the late 1870s the prosperous community had outgrown the
space, and noted local architect Henry M. Francis was commissioned to design an addition.
Four stories were added to the rear of the building in 1879.
In 1964, in response to a state mandate that cities and towns take over the welfare
system, city officials decided to partition the auditorium area in the second floor
into offices. Other twentieth century interior alterations have replaced virtually
all original materials in the building. The exterior appearance has also been altered
over the years. Many of the large, double hung sash windows were replaced with modern
casement style fixed windows during the 1964 renovations. At some point in the 1960s
a concrete porch with side stairs replaced the stairway that led to the front of the
building. Additionally, ionic capitals replaced the composite capitals on the front
pilasters giving the building its current Greek Revival appearance. Minor interior
renovations were completed in 1985, constituting the last significant work done to
The building sits at the foot of the Upper Common on Main Street, directly across
from the old Fitchburg Theater and adjacent to Renaissance Park. Many of the historic
buildings that formerly surrounded the building have been demolished for other commercial
uses, parking or park use, but Fitchburg City Hall continues to serve the people of
Fitchburg in the 21st century.