YOUR HOMETOWN — Bridgewater: History’s Home

History’s Home

Posted: January 24, 2013

Members of the newly formed Bridgewater Historical Society gather at the old Town Hall at 109 S. Main St. in Bridgewater on Monday. The society plans to turn the building, one of the town’s oldest, into a museum and gift shop. Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R
BRIDGEWATER — A small placard reading “Circa 1838” above the doorway at 109 S. Main St. secures the small beige building’s claim to fame as one of Bridgewater’s oldest surviving structures.

Originally the town hall, as well as the site where Bridgewater’s first firetruck was housed, the building has been around almost as long as the 178-year-old town itself. In 1966, the building became a historic landmark and in recent years has been rented out for various purposes.

But its next incarnation as the headquarters of the Bridgewater Historical Society and a museum and gift shop may be the most fitting.

“I can’t think of a better fit for this building,” said Bridgewater Mayor Hallie Dinkel. “We’re just really pleased that this group has stepped forward to help us preserve history.”

Added Ben Beydler, president of the historical society: “We hope to restore it to what it should be.”

The historical society, formed over the summer, hopes to move into the building before July 1. But before that can happen, the group must raise $30,000 to renovate the building.

About 25 people showed up Monday for a short ceremony marking the kickoff of the society’s official fundraising efforts.

Donations totaling $8,000 have already been contributed, Beydler said, but now the group is hoping to open up the opportunity to donate to a wider audience.

The $30,000 will pay for an upgrade to the old town hall’s heating and air conditioning system, carpeting, painting on the inside and outside of the building and other touch-ups.

“We have a lot of work to do inside,” Beydler said. “I want it to be a very relaxing and inviting place for people to come and visit.”

The Bridgewater Historical Society formed in June and Town Council gave it permission in August to use the old building as its headquarters.

As Larry French, a developer and the owner of Wild Woods BBQ in Bridgewater, pointed out, the society headquarters also will be a good promoter of the town’s businesses.

Brochures will be handy at the building, which will serve as an informal information center for visitors.

“I think it will be a plus for the town,” French said.

Contact Emily Sharrer @ 574-6286

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