Pelham’s Community Hall began as a small, one room New England schoolhouse in 1893 and continued to be one for the next 20 years.
In 1892, Capt. Benjamin Page, Sr. (1829-1913) gave the town a small plot of land on the corner of Amherst Road and North Valley Road to be used “for school purposes.”
Pelham carpenter William Manda Thurber (1825-1904) was given the job of constructing a new, modern school building on this site to replace Valley School. The job was finished in 1893 at a cost of $565.00 The new school was named City School I and has been utilized by the town in a variety of capacities and under different names ever since.
In 1913, a two room schoolhouse was built on the opposite side of the road which took all scholars from the old one. This new school took on the name of City School II.
In 1914, the town’s voters were asked what should be done with the now vacant building. Eugene P. Bartlett and others urged that a community association be formed that could both own and utilize the building for various functions. On November 5, 1914, the Village Hall Association was organized with Eugene P. Bartlett, Charles H. Jones, Herman F. Page and Fred A. Shepard as officers. The organization’s papers stated that any resident of the town could become a member of the Association by attending a meeting. There were no dues. The Association added a kitchen to the building in 1915, along with electricity and other improvements. The February 1915 Town Meeting gave the Association a 99 year lease to the building and it now became Village Hall. The Association held annual meetings and all kinds of civic events began taking place in the Hall. At some point, Village Hall became known locally as Community Hall.
Daniel Allen, a long-time neighbor of Community Hall, recalls the history of the building and its many uses in an oral history tape recorded in the 1980’s. This tape is available at the Pelham Library.
In 1968, the Board of Selectmen formally assumed ownership of the Hall for the town.
In 2002, the voters were asked to appropriate $25,000.00 for making repairs to Community Hall. Town Meeting voted to take no action on the Article until such time as it could be determined what Community Hall would be used for.
Concerned citizens wrote letters to the Board of Selectmen and the local newspaper expressing the disappointment of how Community Hall had been allowed to deteriorate. The Board established a Community Hall Committee in October 2002, as they determined that there was enough interest in this issue.
The Community Hall story has been told and retold for 110 years… it is a chronicle of how one small building was transformed by village residents into a site for civic meetings, community celebrations and cultural gatherings.
The mission of the Community Hall Committee is to raise funds and ultimately restore the building to its original integrity. Upon completion of the restoration, and its use by Pelham residents, the building will once again take its place of honor in the community.