The Town Hall in my town of Cambridge, Vermont, has an interesting history. It was built in 1826 as a Union Church to be shared by Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and Universalists. In the late 1800s it became a town hall, and in the early 1900s a theater. My father used to tell stories about seeing shows and silent movies in that theater when he was a youth in the 1920s.
When I was growing up in the 1960s, the building was known as the “Town Meeting Playhouse” (see photo above). A local theater group produced summer shows there for several years, featuring a combination of professional actors and locals. I was in two plays.
Shortly thereafter, the building became unused and fell into disrepair.
The Town of Cambridge reacquired ownership in 1980. Concerned citizens set about to stabilize the “Old Town Hall” with private donations, grants, and considerable volunteer labor. In numerous town meetings, citizens discussed the future of the building. Should taxpayer money be used to restore the building? Should it be a public building or should it be sold? It was a contentious issue for several years.
The outcome was that the building was retained by the town; it was not sold. Taxpayer money was used to renovate the building, and the interior space was converted into two floors. The U.S. Post Office leased the first floor in 1997. The second floor was initially rented out, but later, in 2007, the Cambridge Town Office moved there. Today the building still houses the U.S. Post Office on the first floor and the Cambridge Town Office on the second floor.
The Town Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 as the Cambridge Meetinghouse, also called the Old Brick Church. The photo above is from the nomination. The nomination form (at the link) has additional information about the history and architecture of the building.
The photo below is from the Cambridge Historical Society. It is undated, but the text says “Before Paved Roads.” That was a while ago!
The photo below is the Town Hall today:
The Cambridge Town Office on the second floor includes the offices of the town clerk and treasurer, the town administrator, and the listers. There is adequate meeting space for small groups. Most boards, commissions, and committees in town government hold their meetings there, including the selectboard that I am on. Town meetings of the voters, which are much larger meetings, are held in the gymnasium at the Cambridge Elementary School, a short distance from the Town Hall.
A point of clarification in case it is confusing: The Town of Cambridge includes two incorporated villages – the Village of Cambridge and the Village of Jeffersonville. Each village has its own U.S. Post Office. The post office in the Village of Cambridge is zip code 05444; Jeffersonville is 05464. The Cambridge Town Hall and the Cambridge Elementary School are both located in the Village of Jeffersonville which is in the Town of Cambridge.