SALEM — Historic Salem City Hall is getting dressed up for Halloween.
Scaffolding was erected a few days ago on both sides of the 1838 granite and brick building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest continuously operating city halls in the country.
This marks the first phase of a $2 million restoration that is scheduled to be completed next year.
That’s a lot of money for repairs, but not a bad price for a building the city essentially got for free. The original construction was funded by surplus revenue from the U.S. Treasury that was distributed to the states in 1837.
The repairs will replace or repair the brick walls, roof and windows on the Washington Street building.
In recent years, City Hall has had a number of water-related problems due to leaks in a 1920 roof that has been patched over the years. Water has been an issue on the third floor and even in the City Council chambers and mayor’s office on the second floor.
In this first phase, which is expected to take up to 45 days, workers will replace the roof with a new rubber surface, re-point chimneys, install new skylights, and attach copper gutters and downspouts.
Windows and outside masonry work will be the focus of the second phase, which will be done in the spring.
“The whole idea is to breathe life into the outside of the building,” said Michael Lutrzykowski, the city’s assistant building inspector. “It’s not going to change a lot inside, but it’s going to help protect” the building.
Some offices on the top floor may have to move while skylights are being replaced, but it is not expected to be a major inconvenience.
“It looks like they may be able to stay in their offices for the majority of the time,” Lutrzykowski said.
An alleyway on one side of City Hall will remain open for pedestrians during construction.
In addition to the mayor’s office and council chambers, City Hall houses the city clerk, city attorney, city assessor, chief financial officer and other municipal offices.
An addition was put on the rear of City Hall in 1876, doubling the building’s length, followed by another expansion in 1979 to house city archives. Two years ago, the first elevator was installed.
In this first phase, work is being done by Stanley Roofing Co. of Ipswich and Folan Waterproofing and Construction Co. of South Easton.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.