The Village Hall on the Common was built in 1834 during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. It served as Framingham’s second town hall succeeding a smaller town hall that was no longer adequate to accommodate the town meeting sessions of the growing community. Within the walls of the Village Hall, Framingham and the country “grew up” facing the challenges of the Industrial Revolution, and weathering the trauma of the War Between the States. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was first performed publicly across the street from the hall at Plymouth Church.
Revolutionary Minutemen, and later the local militia, trained on the Centre Common adjacent to where the hall was built. The Henry Knox Cannon Trail runs along Edgell Road by the Centre Common and the Village Hall. General Knox used this route when he brought cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston during the Revolutionary War, to fight the British. The cannons were hidden in nearby barns until General Washington sent for them and they were set up on Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston Harbor.
The Village Hall’s Greek Revival architectural style is a simple adaptation of ancient Greek temples. Designed by the nationally recognized architect, Solomon Willard, it reflects the national patriotic and democratic spirit prevalent following the War of 1812. He is responsible for the design of several other National Register structures, including the Bunker Hill Monument. Local carpenters built the hall from plans drawn by Dexter Hemenway. Later remodeling and improvements were made by Charles Monroe Baker (1873-1942) for whom the Baker Room is named after.
The Village Hall originally housed town offices including a post office, two schoolrooms, Framingham’s first library, and town meeting government. In thrifty Yankee fashion, no space was wasted, as the town fire engine was stored in the basement. In the late 1800s Town Meeting outgrew the Village Hall and met in various public halls in downtown Framingham, until the Memorial Building, our current town hall, was built in 1928. In 1904, a group of citizens formed the Framingham Improvement Association and received permission from the town to assume the care for the Village Hall.
Today, the Framingham History Center assumes the responsibility of managing a variety of events including weddings, corporate meetings, and other celebrations using the proceeds to maintain this building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.