A century after construction on Hempstead's second Town Hall began, the state and federal government are reviewing the proposal for the building's listing on the state and national registers of historic places.
Hempstead Village's town board voted on Oct. 3 to start the process of approving the registers' applications for the two-story structure at 350 Front St. within Hempstead Village, now called Hempstead Town Hall in the community. In a phone interview from last week, Town Supervisor Anthony Santino explained that it is an important part of the town’s history. "We ought to maintain it and preserve it, in order to protect these buildings for generations to come."
According to town historian Tom Saltzman, “Old Town Hall” is actually Hempstead’s second town hall. In 1879, the first building was constructed on Front and Liberty streets that looked like a Victorian-style house and it was demolished when its successor was built. In 1968, the “New Town Hall” situated next to the “Old Town Hall” at 1 Washington St. was also added.
Santino compares the building to the squat box buildings of the 1960s, even though the building is brand new. A copper box time capsule containing the names of those fighting in World War I at the time and the town's first tax roll was buried by officials in 1918 at the cornerstone of “Old Town Hall” by then-New York Governor Charles Whitman.
Saltzman said the time capsule was enclosed within the construction of the building itself.
Saltzman said that by 1929, the town outgrew its original structure and needed an addition on its eastern side. In 1950, a new addition was required on its western side.
"The additions that were made over the years to Hempstead Town Hall are what you can see now when you look at ‘Old Town Hall’," he explained. Saltzman said that the town board designated Old Town Hall in 1985 as a town landmark, which means any renovations must get approval from the town's Landmarks Preservation Commission and adhere to the original design.
There are only two other landmarks belonging to the town and that is the Rock Hall in Lawrence, along with a landmark called Soldiers and Sailors Monument which is located in Uniondale cemetery, he informed us. The restoration of Hempstead Town Hall and its clock tower for the two million dollar price tag has been a priority of Santino’s tenure as supervisor. I have always been bothered by the broken clock, Santino said.
“It worked, once in a while,” he said. “But after that it got stuck, and it wouldn’t work.”
A new roof and restructured exterior stairs were also among the clock's enhancements. The overhaul clock was unveiled in March.
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