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Travel back in Time at Oakes Ames Memorial Hall

Travel Back in Time with the Wednesday Patch Passport, to discover the history and roots of Easton.

If you're looking to discover Easton's past, you don't need to look far. It is all around you. From the rockery and shovelshops to the Furnace Village pre-revolutionary houses, Easton drips with history.

Perhaps nothing in Easton, however, is more recognizable as a historic landmark than the giant granite building that towers over North Easton Village. If you're driving down Main Steet, it is impossible to miss.

Oakes Ames Memorial Hall was erected in 1881 as a memorial to Congressman Oakes Ames, who passed away in 1873.

"He was a big, broad man, so his children wanted a memorial that fit him well," Curator Frank Menino said.

Oakes' children, Oakes M. Ames, Oliver Ames and Frank M. Ames wanted to create a new town hall for the town, Menino said. They thought a building in North Easton Village would be a perfect fit.

However, many South Easton residents felt differently. The Town Hall at the time was at the geographic center of town, near where "The Monument" stands today.

Instead, the Hall was erected in 1881 and deeded to the trust of the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall Trustees "for the use and benefit of the people of Easton. To you the trustees appointed to receive and care for the building - trusting that the building will be a source of pleasure and convenience to the good people."

The building is used for many of the same purposes today, including get-togethers, various town-related meetings and functions.

Its most striking feature, however, is its design and structure. It was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson - one of the premire architects of the time. The Hall's archways are a staple of Richardson's work.

For the exterior of the building, Richardson collaborated with Frederick Olmsted to create the Hall's giant front stairway. Olmsted went on to create the rockery, which stands just yards away from the hall.

Pat Maguire Parrie July 27, 2011 at 09:05 PM
I've seen pictures of the exterior of Oakes Ames Memorial Hall my entire life, but never any photos of the inside. Four+ stories, perhaps an immense basement, the round tower on the right hand side - all just fascinating from the exterior! Would an in-depth article on the interior floors and rooms be as interesting? Any spectacular architectural treasures on the inside? Furnishings? If it's anything like the library, it would surely be worth a pictorial tour.

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