Amherst historians gathered on the steps of the Amherst Town Hall – at the ‘Sandstone Center of the World’ – to commemorate the building’s 130 year “birthday.” Below is a brief history of the structure and the significance of our event.
Amherst Historians Mark 130 Year Anniversary of Town Hall
June 25, 2014
Col. Matthew W. Nahorn, Director, New Indian Ridge Museum; Curator Committee & Board of Director, Amherst Historical Society
We as Amherst historians, stand on the steps of the Amherst Town Hall to mark its 130th year anniversary of construction.
The Amherst Town Hall, built of native Amherst sandstone and situated squarely in the center of the Sandstone Center of the World, is a bold reminder of our town’s sandstone heritage, which transcends history.
The Town Hall, built in 1884, replaced a wooden structure that actually still stands today. Early Amherst settler, Josiah Harris, donated land for the present building.
Judge Josiah Harris, who could be termed the founder of the downtown Amherst area, permanently settled here in 1818. The first Lorain County sheriff, a mayor of Cleveland, and a politician who served at the Statehouse as a representative, Harris was a philanthropist, who donated land for the early Amherst schools and the Town Hall.
Known as the town ‘commons’ area, when Harris donated the land for the Town Hall, it was an empty lot that had only been cleared of trees. It remained this way, empty, for many years, because of a deed restriction that Harris had placed on the property.
Justice of the Peace Harris had stipulated that the Town Hall, to be constructed on the land he donated, had to be of native Amherst sandstone. This project cost substantially more than an ordinary wooden structure, and thus Amherst voters repeatedly voted down a levy to build such a structure.
By 1884 funds were approved, and the heavy blocks of sandstone were laid into place. From historical archives of newspaper articles, we learn from one article dated, July 3, 1884, that James Nichols of Amherst was awarded the contract to construct the new town hall. “The building is to be 50 x 83 feet. Contract price: $17,070. Ground was broken for the foundation this morning; the time for completing the hall is limited to Dec. 25, 1884.”
This year, 2014, we as Amherst historians are marking the 130th anniversary of this historic building’s construction. Nothing major is planned, other than gathering here at the front steps of the building that represents Amherst’s sandstone heritage, in order to commemorate this anniversary and rightfully recognize Amherst as the “Sandstone Center of the World.”