Holley Hall renovations completed

BRISTOL — According to town officials, after 125 years of active duty, Holley Hall was in need of a little relief. The renovation project began in 2008 and was completed last month. It rehabilitated the historic building and updated the space to meet the current needs of its inhabitants.
“It was not a delightful space,” Town Manager Bill Bryant said. “The needs had just really changed.”
The renovation project was funded through several sources including a $750,000 bond approved by voters on Dec. 8, 2009. The town also received a $59,000 bequest for Holley Hall from Peverill Peake and two grants: a $50,000 Community Development Accessibility Grant and a $7,000 Voter Accessibility Grant, giving Holley Hall a total of $866,000 for the renovations.
The town hired Rebecca Arnold and intern Jonathon Collin of Arnold and Scangas Architects in Colchester to draw up the design and it was implemented by John Crossman and his team at Naylor and Breen Builders in Brandon.
“Both did outstanding work for us,” Bryant said. “We are very, very happy.”
At a special open house event last Friday, Bryant, along with other town employees, took those who attended on special tours of the renovated spaces, pointing out the various updates and repairs.
According to Bryant, the following have been addressed by the recently completed updates:
• Structural issues involving the balcony and roof truss system at the bell tower.
• Inadequate handicap accessibility.
• Danger of falling snow and ice at the town office entrance on South St.
• High levels of radon gas and presence of black mold.
• Lack of space and fireproof measures in town vault.
• Overcrowded and inefficient town office spaces.
• Lack of natural light in town office spaces.
• Lack of insulation; poor energy use.
• General aesthetic and cosmetic needs.
From noticeable changes like the restored windows, rearranged offices and revamped conference room in the basement to the more hidden truss and roof repairs, Holley Hall has undergone quite the makeover.
“Everything was just beat up,” Bryant said. “We discovered that we had some problems with the roof trusses. There was a sag in the roof. When you went outside and followed the line over to the bell tower, a brick was missing. There was a three-inch sag.”
Upstairs, the balcony was reinforced and the auditorium’s walls finally received a much-needed coat of paint. The chosen shade of green sets off the restored theater curtain that now hangs just above the Holley Hall stage. The curtain, which features the famous chariot scene from “Ben Hur,” made its official debut at the open house on Friday.
“When we first planned the project we had not budgeted to do the improvements upstairs,” Bryant said. “We knew we needed to do those things, but we couldn’t afford them. Fortunately, everything came in very well and project went very smoothly and we were able to add those things on.”
And to help keep costs low in the future, the 1825 building has been brought up to speed with new energy efficient lighting, air-lock doors and added insulation.
Other improvements include added handicap-accessible entrances on both its south and east sides and an expanded, fireproof vault was also added to provide more secure storage for the town’s documents.
As Bristol residents wandered through the modernized spaces, Bryant stood near his new office, no longer jutting off the busy entryway.
“It’s a great building, and it deserved to have it,” he said. “We knew this space could be beautiful.”
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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