Mendon Town Hall

    The town hall was built in 1840 on land provided by Silas Dudley, a prosperous gentleman farmer.  Mr. Dudley
    retained rights to the second floor, and he named it Harrison Hall when President William Henry Harrison died of
    pneumonia shortly after his inauguration.  The town owned the first floor and used it as a school.  In 1849, the
    town purchased the entire building and renamed it Mendon Town Hall.  The second floor became Mendon High
    School from 1868 to 1903.  It was also used for town meetings and civic and cultural events.  Since 1903, the
    building has served Mendon citizens in a variety of ways, including a place for town offices of elected and
    appointed officials.

    Mendon Town Hall is actually Mendon center’s fifth meetinghouse.  Many historic events preceded the
    construction of our existing cornerstone of town government.  The first structure was built in 1668, about one
    hundred fifty yards to the north, but it was burned to the ground in February 1676, during the King Philip War.  This
    was a devastating blow to Mendon’s first settlers, who had carved a new frontier settlement in the Nipmuc Indian
    land of Squinshepauge.  The second and third were constructed on the same site in 1680 and 1690, but were
    soon inadequate due to town growth.  The fourth meetinghouse was built in the 1730’s at the north end of the
    village cemetery, after much bickering and re-voting.  After one hundred years, a new meetinghouse was needed,
    and a central location was desired for the newly combined school districts to educate the town’s children under
    one roof.  The days of the neighborhood school district were over.  School Committeeman Silas Dudley was able
    to solve both problems.

    The first four meetinghouses were used for town meetings and religious services, as were permitted under
    Puritanical laws.  Mr. Dudley’s 1840 building was not constructed for religious purposes, as twenty years earlier,
    the Unitarian Church had been built.  Mendon accepted the concept of separation of church and state.

    Another unique aspect of the town hall was that it was the last Mendon public building to be constructed before
    the town’s south parish broke away to form an independent town (1845).  Blackstone, a highly industrial factory
    and mill section along the Blackstone River, had generated large sums of tax dollars for Mendon’s treasury.  The
    town was able to afford its portion of the new building due to the reluctant generosity of its southern parish.  The
    independence of Blackstone impacted Mendon’s economy and population, but its financial contributions before
    its departure enabled the town to come up with its share to make the concept of a town hall and a central school
    a reality.

    Richard Grady
    Mendon, MA

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